Obviously this is a reactive move on the part of legislators, and may be seen as "Too little, too late" regarding the disaster in West Virginia, but West Virginia Senators Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller and California Senator Barbara Boxer have introduced an amendment to the Safe Drinking Water Act of 1974 which (if passed) will correct the issues highlighted in Freedom Industries' leak of MCHM and PPH into a surface water source. And as the icing on this shit cake, Freedom Industries has declared bankruptcy.
The amendment, called the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act of 2014, would add the following provisions to the SDWA:
- Establish inspection programs, overseen by the states, of chemical storage facilities that could pose a threat to sources of drinking water.
- Directs states to use water protection plans that should already exist under SDWA to identify potential sources of contamination.
- Establishes minimum federal standards for state programs dealing with above-ground chemical storage, including construction standards, leak detection and spill/overfill requirements, emergency response and communication plans, and notification to the EPA and state/public officials regarding chemicals being stored at a facility. (Underground storage tanks are already covered.)
- Sets minimum inspection requirements for chemical storage facilities - a minimum of once every three years for facilities that are identified as posing a high risk to drinking water (per item 2) and a minimum of once every five years for all other facilities.
- Requires chemical storage facilities to share information with public officials in charge of drinking water.
- Gives public officials in charge of drinking water systems the authority to act in an emergency, to stop an immediate threat to the people affected by a contaminated drinking water source.
- Ensures that states are able to recoup the costs associated with responding to and mitigating these kinds of emergencies.
Basically you can see that every item listed here was a failure that contributed to the scale of the situation in West Virginia. I know that WV is its own little political climate, but federal standards such as these help to protect all of us - it's entirely possible that something similar could happen in your state (for all of us U.S.ians). You have the opportunity to contact your Congresscritters to let them know how you stand on this issue, which is what I'll be doing.
I think this is important enough to share in other forums - if anyone has those privileges, I would appreciate it.