Legislation proposed in WV to regulate chemicals

January 20, 2014 • Business

Emma Del Torto of Charleston, W.Va. holds a sign during a demonstration at the state Capitol on Saturday, Jan.18, 2014. More than 100 people gathered to question their tap water’s quality following a chemical spill that tainted the local water supply. (AP Photo/John Raby)

CHARLESTON, W.Va. (AP) — West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin and U.S. Sen. Joe Manchin on Monday proposed tighter regulations for chemical storage facilities after a spill contaminated the water supply for 300,000 people.

Tomblin, the Democratic governor, urged passage of a chemical storage regulatory program. The bill aims to address shortcomings that allowed 7,500 gallons of coal-cleaning chemicals to seep into the Elk River on Jan. 9. Freedom Industries, which owned the plant that leaked the chemicals, filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy Friday.

Freedom Industries’ safety flaws, including a last-resort containment wall filled with cracks, went largely undetected, because as a facility that neither manufactured chemicals, produced emissions, or stored chemicals underground, it was not subject to environmental regulations, state Department of Environmental Protection officials have said. The chemical that spilled also wasn’t deemed hazardous enough for additional regulation.

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