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W.Va. DEP lays out long-term tank safety plans

Charleston Gazette photo by F. Brian Ferguson Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP’s Division of Water and Waste management, leads a public briefing Wednesday morning at the Charleston Civic Center on the agency’s new chemical tank safety rules.
Charleston Gazette photo by F. Brian Ferguson
Scott Mandirola, director of the DEP’s Division of Water and Waste management, leads a public briefing Wednesday morning at the Charleston Civic Center on the agency’s new chemical tank safety rules.

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As chemical tank owners across West Virginia scrambled to meet Wednesday’s deadline to register with state regulators, Department of Environmental Protection officials hosted an unusual daylong session to explain their long-term plan for implementing the new state law meant to prevent a repeat of January’s Freedom Industries leak into the Elk River.

DEP officials briefed about 70 industry lobbyists, citizen activists, engineers and consultants, providing a section-by-section review of a rough draft of the agency’s 79-page rule to implement the Above Ground Storage Tank Act portions of SB 373.

The Tomblin administration released the draft version to allow for more give-and-take with the public and the regulated community before filing a formal draft for a legally required public comment period and a review by lawmakers during the 2015 regular legislative session.

“We knew the rulemaking process was going to be important,” DEP Secretary Randy Huffman said. “Given the interest, we made a commitment to engage stakeholders in the process.”

In writing the rule, the DEP is responding to a legislative mandate that it create a program to regulate above-ground chemical storage tanks, or ASTs. Lawmakers ordered the move after the leak of the coal-cleaning chemical Crude MCHM from Freedom Industries, an incident that contaminated the Elk River drinking-water source for hundreds of thousands of people in Charleston and surrounding communities.

Through Wednesday — the legal deadline for registering ASTs with the DEP — agency officials said at least 46,000 registrations had been filed…

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