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WV Senator to Introduce Regulatory Legislation in Wake of Chemical Spill Disaster

The proposed law would give the DEP regulatory authority over above ground liquid storage facilities.

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. - As things move slowly towards getting back to normal in southern West Virginia after last week’s chemical spill, lawmakers are left with many questions to address.

Why were tanks holding chemicals kept so close to a major water supply? Were they being inspected thoroughly enough? And why was the leak not reported sooner?

West Virginia Senate Majority Leader John Unger (D-Berkeley, 16) says he wants to make sure those questions don't have to be asked again in the future.

"As Chair of the Legislative Oversight Commission on State Water Resources, I’ve called for an investigation into this situation so that we can see what happened, how it happened," said Unger.

Senator Unger wants to introduce a bill that will give the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection more authority to regulate above ground liquid storage facilities.

"We do not do inspections and registrations of above ground tanks, storage facilities,” said Unger. “We do it for the underground, but we don't for above ground...If we had [above ground regulations] in place, then we could've prevented this spill from happening."

Among some of the proposed provisions is more regular inspections and possibly a requirement for alarm systems that report leaks.

They are new legislative protections Unger feels confident his colleagues will support.

"I just got done talking with the Senate leadership and they're very supportive of it so we're going to make this happen,” said Unger.

Unger says the Commission he heads will meet on Friday. He says they are going to work as fast as they can to get a bill onto the Senate floor. He says hopefully it will be introduced Friday.

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