Monday, January 12, 2015

State ordered report exposes West Virginia's environmental regulations shortcomings

A report ordered by West Virginia Democratic Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin says that the Mountain State has inadequate environmental regulations to prevent incidents such as the Freedom Industries January 2014 chemical leak that contaminated the drinking water of 300,000 people in Charleston and surrounding communities, David Gutman and Ken Ward report for the Charleston Gazette. Last month Freedom and six of its owners, managers and employees were charged with criminal violations of the Clean Water Act related to the spill.

"State officials bungled their efforts to explain the crisis to the public, government agency websites were 'embarrassingly out of date at the time of the incident' and even top staffers for Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin were not properly prepared to manage the response to the loss of clean drinking water for hundreds of thousands of residents, the administration said in an 'After Action Review,'" Gutman and Ward write. The report said, “The Freedom Industries chemical leak incident . . . was unique and unprecedented. There was no roadmap for handling the intricacies of this particular crisis.”

"The report asserts that, while the state had established a 'comprehensive statutory framework' in 1984 to regulate underground chemical storage tanks, aboveground tanks were not regulated 'under an applicable federal or state permit' and tanks like the MCHM tanks at Freedom Industries 'escaped government oversight,'” Gutman and Ward write. "The report said that the new storage tank law 'will help address these shortcomings, will increase public safety significantly and will help protect the environment.'” (Read more)

No comments: