U.S. introduces bill to prevent chemical spills

Three United States senators have introduced a bill that would help protect Americans from chemical spills that threaten drinking water.
This bill, the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act, brings together in one place the tools to provide oversight of chemical facilities. It strengthens states’ ability to prevent chemical spills like the Jan. 9 spill that contaminated the water supply in nine West Virginia counties and impacted more than 300,000 West Virginians.

The legislation includes "common sense measures" designed to ensure industrial facilities are properly inspected by state officials and both the chemical industry and emergency response agencies are prepared for future chemical incidents or emergencies, according to Joe Manchin, one of the three senators introducing the bill along with Barbara Boxer and Jay Rockefeller.

Key principles in the Chemical Safety and Drinking Water Protection Act include:
• requiring regular state inspections of above-ground chemical storage facilities
?• requiring industry to develop state-approved emergency response plans that meet at least minimum guidelines established in this bill ?
• allowing states to recoup costs incurred from responding to emergencies?
• ensuring drinking water systems have the tools and information to respond to emergencies.

“Today, nearly 150,000 West Virginians still cannot use their tap water and many more are concerned about the long-term effects of this chemical spill,” Manchin said. “We can work to improve the safety of Americans by ensuring that chemicals are properly managed, while also balancing the positive impact the chemical industry has made to our country.”