Senator Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., speaks at the Congressional hearing in Charleston on Monday morning. The roughly two-hour hearing examined the leak of thousands of chemicals from a storage tank into the Elk River. See hearing story at http://www.charlestondailymail.com/News/201402100008
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‘Eye-opening’ comments lead to changes in leak bill

Charleston Daily Mail photo by Tom Hindman Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., speaks at the Congressional hearing in Charleston on Monday morning. The roughly two-hour hearing examined the leak of thousands of chemicals from a storage tank into the Elk River. See hearing story at http://www.charlestondailymail.com/News/201402100008
Charleston Daily Mail photo by Tom Hindman
Rep. Shelley Moore Capito, R-W.Va., speaks at the Congressional hearing in Charleston on Monday morning. The roughly two-hour hearing examined the leak of thousands of chemicals from a storage tank into the Elk River.  Click here to see hearing story

By Dave Boucher

Charleston Daily Mail

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Legislation introduced in the wake of the recent chemical leak will have a stronger focus on public health and communication when it comes up for a vote in a House committee Wednesday.

The need for changes became clear after testimony showed problems with response to the leak at several levels of government, said Delegate Don Perdue, D-Wayne.

“It’s a pretty dynamic moment when you start to realize that despite the best efforts of the people that you put in charge, it didn’t work very well, if at all,” Perdue said.

Democrats and Republicans on the House Health and Human Resources Committee agreed to changes to Senate Bill 373. Perdue, who heads the committee, said members received a draft of the changes Monday.

Committee members from both parties met in brief caucuses after the whole committee meeting. Perdue expects the bill to pass.

He wouldn’t go into details about the changes, but said the committee added sections to the bill as opposed to splitting it into two pieces of legislation.

After learning about public and private response to the leak, Perdue said the failures in communication were “eye-opening.”

“I know I always assumed that, you know, if something happened, somebody would tell me and we’d start acting to fix it within a very short period of time,” he said.

“And despite the best efforts of people who really were trying to do their job, that didn’t happen…”

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