Commercial Photography Services of West Virginia
The pressure continues to build on Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin to call a special session so West Virginia can walk back the landmark chemical tank safety and public drinking water law that miraculously made its way through the Legislature in the wake of January’s Freedom Industries spill and the Kanawha Valley water crisis that followed.
Yesterday, Senate President Jeff Kessler and House Speaker Tim Miley issued a joint statement urging Gov. Tomblin to call that special session so they can roll back the deadline for chemical tank owners to determine if their tanks are safe and report that information to the state Department of Environmental Protection. Here’s what they had to say in that joint release:
We urge Governor Tomblin to call a brief special session during the upcoming September interim meetings to modify the date of implementation for the inspection and certification of the Above Ground Storage Tank Act (SB373). Doing so during the interim meetings will not incur any additional cost to the taxpayers.
While we are extremely proud of the comprehensive regulatory legislation produced earlier this year to protect drinking water for our state citizens, it has become apparent that the Jan. 1, 2015 deadline for these inspections is unattainable. Extending that deadline will allow the state Department of Environmental Protection to put in place, with public input, agency rules to fairly and effectively govern the inspection and certification process.
Any continued delay in taking action on this matter only causes uncertainty within affected industries and the families that rely on them for employment.
Meanwhile, the DEP will move forward with creating an inventory and conducting a risk assessment of above ground storage tanks statewide.
As of now, as many as 40,000 tanks in West Virginia must be registered with the state by Oct. 1 and certified inspections of those tanks have to be completed by Jan. 1. The state Department of Environmental Protection has not yet finalized the inspection protocols and, DEP officials have said, it could be December before those guidelines are available.
After appearing at times to actually care about drinking water protections, the Daily Mail editorial page is back to its old self, and repeating the same misinformation West Virginians are getting from MetroNews:
But the biggest issue is the uncertainty facing storage tank operators as the Department of Environmental Protection, the agency charged with enforcing the law, has yet to define the inspection parameters for storage tanks. Once it does, operators of the estimated 40,000 storage tanks affected by the law are unlikely to have time to complete their inspections by the Jan. 1 deadline.
It’s simply false to say that DEP has not yet issued “inspection protocols” or defined “the inspection parameters.” Officials at DEP, working very hard under tough deadlines and constant pressure from industry, published guidance for tank owners spelling out what should be examined in these inspections. It’s right here on the agency’s website. There’s a checklist for what the inspections should include and there are forms (see here and here) to use in certifying to DEP that you’ve done these inspections and your tanks are safe.
And DEP was very, very clear about how this is going to work for the initial inspections due Jan. 1 and for future annual inspections:
For the certification due on or before January 1, 2015, compliance with a nationally recognized tank standard such API or STI following the attached checklist shall be deemed compliance with the requirements. Subsequent Annual Certifications will be required to comply fully with legislative rules promulgated by the Secretary.