New legislation has been proposed to tighten regulations on chemical storage facilities following a chemical spill that contaminated the water supply for 300,000 West Virginia residents. 7,500 gallons of coal-cleaning chemicals leaked from an above-ground storage tank in Charleston owned by Freedom Industries and entered the Elk River on January 9. In response, West Virginia Governor Earl Ray Tomblin [official website] proposed a bill [AP report] that would require annual inspections of above-ground chemical storage tanks which are currently exempt from such oversight due to a loophole in the existing regulatory scheme. US Senator Joe Manchin [official website] has called for similar legislation requiring regular inspection for any chemical facilities that could threaten a public water system.
Chemical spills and water contamination have been highly publicized topics in environmental legislation. Earlier this month a federal appeals court upheld a multibillion dollar settlement [JURIST report] for those facing financial loss from the 2010 Deepwater Horizon oil spill [JURIST news archive]. XTO Energy, a subsidiary of Exxon Mobil [corporate websites], was charged [JURIST report] in September 2013 for a 2010 spill of more than 50,000 gallons of contaminated wastewater in Pennsylvania with alleged violations carrying potential prison sentences. In June 2013 Illinois instituted the nation's most restrictive fracking legislation [JURIST report], requiring drillers to apply for permits, provide frackwater samples, and to store used frackwater in above-ground tanks.