Agency’s indifference toward rules alarming

An editorial from the Parkersburg News and Sentinel        

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Nearly a year after failures at the inspection and enforcement levels helped pave the way for a leak that left water unusable for 300,000 West Virginians, the Department of Environmental Protection has made no progress in improving the way it does its job.

During a regulatory board hearing last week, the DEP-speaking specifically about water samples from coal companies-admitted there is still no effective program in place. In the context of considering the case of Appalachian Laboratories Inc., which lost its Clean Water Act certification when it was discovered an employee had been falsifying water samples, one DEP laboratory auditor revealed the agency does not conduct field inspections to keep the water quality samplers honest.

The director of DEP’s Division of Water and Waste Management, Scott Mandirola, said regulations governing such enforcement should be modified.

It is absurd that, as we approach the anniversary of the Elk River spill, we are still talking about changes we should make to enforcement policies. A great deal of energy went into creating new rules that inconvenienced owners of businesses of all sizes. Apparently no energy at all went into asking the DEP to change the way it operates.

When lawmakers get down to business next month, each must remember all the rules in the world will do no good if no one is enforcing them.

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