Jan 17 2014
Common sense legislation responds to West Virginia chemical spill that left 300,000 without water
Washington, D.C. – U.S. Senators Joe Manchin (D-W.Va.), Barbara Boxer (D-CA), Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, and Jay Rockefeller (D-W.Va.) today reached agreement on legislative language that will help protect Americans from chemical spills that threaten drinking water. This bill, the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, brings together in one place the tools to provide oversight of chemical facilities. It strengthens states’ ability to prevent chemical spills like the January 9th spill that contaminated the water supply in nine West Virginia counties and impacted more than 300,000 West Virginians. Senators Manchin and Boxer plan to introduce the legislation when Congress returns later this month.
The legislation includes common sense measures designed to ensure industrial facilities are properly inspected by state officials and both the chemical industry and emergency response agencies are prepared for future chemical incidents or emergencies.
Key principles in the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act include:
1. Requiring regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities,
2. Requiring industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans that meet at least minimum guidelines established in this bill,
3. Allowing states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies, and
4. Ensuring drinking water systems have the tools and information to respond to emergencies.
“Today, nearly 150,000 West Virginians still cannot use their tap water and many more are concerned about the long-term effects of this chemical spill,” Senator Manchin said. “No West Virginian or American should have to go through something like this again, and that is why I plan to introduce common sense legislation to make sure all chemicals are appropriately monitored. We can work to improve the safety of Americans by ensuring that chemicals are properly managed, while also balancing the positive impact the chemical industry has made to our country.”
Senator Boxer said, “This legislation protects children and families across the nation by providing the tools necessary to help prevent dangerous chemical spills that threaten their drinking water.”
“The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd,” Senator Rockefeller said. “I’m encouraged we are taking these steps to bring some accountability to industry that will help protect West Virginia families and our state’s economy.”
To review a one-page fact sheet of the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, please click here.