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Group says bill could leave only 90 tanks regulated

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — As few as 90 of the thousands of chemical storage tanks across West Virginia might be covered by new state Department of Environmental Protection safety requirements passed after last year’s Freedom Industries leak, if legislation introduced this week passes, according to a new analysis of DEP data.

That’s 0.2 percent of the nearly 44,000 tanks listed in a database the DEP put together with owner registrations.

Downstream Strategies, a Morgantown-based environmental consultant, analyzed the data and released its findings in conjunction with the West Virginia Rivers Coalition.

“Senate Bill 373 passed with the promise that our water supplies would be protected,” said Angie Rosser, executive director of the Rivers Coalition. “The fact that the Legislature is now introducing bills that exclude 99.8 percent of tanks is a betrayal of that promise. We cannot accept our lawmakers turning their back on public safety and ignoring what we learned last year about the vulnerability of our water.”

The new analysis is an update from a report released last month that used the chemical tank registration data the DEP previously released to provide a glimpse into where tanks are located, what industries have the most and what substances the tanks contain. That report also tried to begin to examine how various changes to the new law might allow thousands of tanks located “in close proximity” to drinking water intakes to escape requirements for periodic inspections and mandated safety standards.”

In a prepared statement, the DEP said its own review showed that, under the legislation, about 1,800 tanks would be left to be regulated…

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