CHARLESTON, W.Va. — Department of Environmental Protection officials plan to announce as early as Tuesday a proposed rule outlining a focused plan for mandated inspections of thousands of chemical storage tanks across West Virginia and — Tomblin administration officials hope — ease concerns about implementation of the state’s new tank safety law.
DEP Secretary Randy Huffman briefed lawmakers on the plan at the start of a series of legislative interim meetings in Charleston on Monday. Critics of the new law had hoped Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin would use the scheduled interims for a special session to move back a key compliance deadline mandated by SB 373, which passed in the wake of the January chemical leak at Freedom Industries and the ensuing Kanawha Valley water crisis.
Huffman said the DEP’s proposed “interpretive rule” will set up three levels of tanks, based on tank location, size and the material contained, and allow different scopes of inspection by tank owners for purposes of meeting a Jan. 1, 2015, deadline for inspections and safety certifications.
“We’ve made it pretty simple,” Huffman said after outlining the plan to a meeting of the Legislature’s Joint Standing Committee on the Judiciary. “I don’t need a $3,000 inspection of a 1,500-gallon tank…