CHARLESTON, W.Va. -- West Virginia's two U.S. senators officially introduced a bill Tuesday they are confident provides the framework to prevent future chemical leaks like the one that recently contaminated the Elk River.
Joined by Sen. Barbara Boxer, D-Calif., Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller, both D-W.Va., introduced the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act. Manchin and Rockefeller announced Jan. 17 they planned to co-sponsor the measure.
"It's clear more could have been done more to protect the water supply for hundreds of thousands of West Virginians," Rockefeller said in a news release.
"This bill takes a first step toward bringing accountability to companies in the state while protecting West Virginia families and our state's economy. "
The 11-page bill focuses on four areas.
States must create an aboveground storage tank inspection program that touches on a variety of issues, including tank design standards, safeguards that could limit or deter a leak, and proof the owner of the facility could pay for damages in the event of an emergency.
The measure also calls for regular state inspections of the tanks: every three years for tanks identified to be in specific source water assessment areas, and every five years for every other applicable tank.
The bill gives states the authority to recover costs from a company at fault in the course of responding to a leak. It also says owners of a storage tank facility can't sell the facility until they conduct a "pretransfer inspection" and provide the results to the new potential owner.
The state would be required to provide public water companies any emergency response information and an inventory of chemicals for each storage facility within the same watershed, according to the bill.
"No West Virginian or American should have to worry about the contamination of their water supply from a chemical spill," Manchin said in the release.
"This common sense bill makes sure all chemicals are appropriately monitored and protects the safety of the water we consume and use every day."