The committee substitute for S.B. 423, “Amending the Aboveground Storage Tank Act,” passed out of the Senate Judiciary Committee on Tuesday evening. On Saturday afternoon it passed the full Senate with only one “no” vote, and it’s now headed to the House.
While we have a number of concerns with the committee substitute, it is a substantial improvement over the introduced version of the bill, due to many hours of negotiations that included the WVEC, the WV Rivers Coalition, the West Virginia Sustainable Business Council, WV-CAG, WV-SORO, the DEP, the Independent Oil and Gas Association, and others.
The number of tanks regulated under the Act will be reduced from about 48,000 to about 12,000. Of the 12,000, about 5,000 are will be classified as “Level 1,” which is defined as those tanks that a) contain hazardous substances (fyi, MCHM is not considered a hazardous substance); b) have a capacity of 50,000 gallons or more; or 3) are within the “zone of critical concern” for a drinking water intake. The zone of critical concern is based on a five-hour travel time of water downstream to an intake for a drinking water treatment plant.
Approximately 7,000 additional tanks will be classified as “Level 2,” which is comprised of tanks located within a “zone of peripheral concern” (ZPC). The ZPC is based on a travel time between five and ten hours to a drinking water intake.
Owners of those tanks already regulated under some other law may apply to opt out of regulation under the ASTA. Among other things, the application must include information about adherence to tank and secondary containment integrity, inspection, and spill prevention and response. The DEP is to have full discretion w/r/t approval of the application for exemption.
There is no provision that the other regulation must be at least as stringent as that of the ASTA. And if all the tanks eligible for the “opt out” apply for and are granted exemption, the number of tanks regulated under the ASTA will be reduced to less than 100.
We have other concerns with the bill in addition to those identified here, and are hoping for improvements to it as it makes its way through the House. Please stay tuned!