New tank law passes first key deadline

CHARLESTON, W.Va. — The state Department of Environmental Protection believes it has close to full compliance with a new state law regulating aboveground storage tanks. A tank registration deadline was July 1.

“This has had a lot of publicity. People have known about it, they’ve heard about it, we’ve had press releases, I think a lot of people have complied,” DEP deputy director of the Division of Water and Waste Management Pat Campbell told 58WCHS.

State lawmakers created a regulatory program for aboveground storage tanks last year after the Freedom Industries chemical spill on the Elk River in Charleston. An original registration deadline was Oct. 1, 2014, but a new deadline was established this year after lawmakers tweaked the law reducing the number of tanks that will eventually be regulated.

The next step for owners of tanks that hold things other than water and are greater than 1,320 gallons is a requirement to submit a ‘Spill Prevention Control Plan’ by December.

“They will say, ‘Here’s our plan. Here is who we are going to notify and here are the control measures we are going to have on site,'” Campbell said.

The DEP registered 50,000 storage tanks under the first state law after the Freedom spill. Campbell predicted under the reworked law only about 10,000 to 15,000 tanks, which are closer to drinking water sources, would have to have spill prevention control plans.

“It has gone with the intent of the legislature to regulate those tanks that are the most significant threat to drinking water supplies,” Campbell said.

The new law classifies tanks in zones of critical concern and zones of peripheral concern according to how long it would take a chemical spill to reach a public water intake. The DEP has to inspect the tanks every three years. The details about the owner’s responsibility will be worked out in the legislature’s rule-making process.

The DEP’s website,, offers a survey to tank owners that will tell them if their tanks need to be registered.