Senate Democrats to introduce chemical spill legislation

Washington – Legislation will soon be introduced in an effort to improve the oversight of chemical facilities and help prevent chemical spills, a group of Senate Democrats announced Jan. 17. The announcement followed a Jan. 9 chemical spill in West Virginia in which thousands of gallons of chemicals spilled into the Elk River, contaminating the drinking water for about 300,000 residents in nearby counties.

New requirements in the proposed Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act include regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities, as well as industry-developed and state-approved emergency response plans.

Sens. Joe Manchin and Jay Rockefeller (both D-WV) and Barbara Boxer (D-CA) announced the pending legislation.

“The fact that there was a lack of regulations which allowed this particular storage facility to go uninspected for so many years is absurd,” Rockefeller said in a press release on the proposed legislation. “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.”

At press time, the legislation had not yet been officially introduced.