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WV Rivers - Downstream Strategies Report Provides Analysis of Tank Registrations

posted Jan 15, 2015, 6:55 AM by angie wv   [ updated Jan 15, 2015, 6:56 AM ]

Thousands of tanks are located close to surface waters across West Virginia, data shows

Our new report offers analysis of initial aboveground storage tank registrations called for under SB373, a 2014 water protection law passed unanimously by the West Virginia Legislature and signed by Governor Tomblin last April. “Aboveground Storage Tanks in West Virginia: A Snapshot,” was prepared by environmental consulting firm Downstream Strategies and the nonprofit West Virginia Rivers Coalition; it provides an analysis of the more than 47,000 tanks registered by mid-December, 2014.

The goal of the report, say the authors, is to help legislators, regulators, tank owners and operators, and the general public make the best decisions possible. “In a very visual way, we present specific data on the locations of tanks, types of substances they store, and types of industries that have registered the tanks,” said Downstream Strategies President Evan Hansen.

“It’s remarkable to see the number of tanks so close to rivers or streams,” said Angie Rosser, Executive Director of the West Virginia Rivers Coalition. “So while it’s appropriate to look most closely at tanks closest to existing drinking water intakes, focusing protection efforts solely on those zones would miss thousands of tanks that could easily harm our water supplies.”

Among the major findings: 

  • Nearly half of the tanks are located within a thousand feet of surface water.

  • About three quarters of the tanks are owned by the oil and gas industry.

  • 5 of the 6 counties with the most tanks are clustered in the north-central section of the state—Doddridge, Ritchie, Harrison, Lewis, and Gilmer Counties. Kanawha County has the fifth-most tanks.

  • Sixteen tanks contain MCHM, the chemical involved in contaminating the drinking water supply across a nine-county area of West Virginia in January 2014.

  • More than 1,100 tanks did not pass their initial inspections, and only 55% of registered tanks have been certified as fit for service.

“The good news,” said Hansen, “is that for the first time we have this data available about all tanks located across the state. As the Legislature considers adopting new Aboveground Storage Tank rules, it can use the tank database to inform its decisions.”

“A lot of tank owners told DEP it would be impossible to register and inspect their tanks by the deadlines, and to the agency’s credit, they stuck to the deadlines so that we would no longer be in the dark about where tanks are and the threat they pose,” said Rosser. Now that the information is available, Rosser added, “We have a clearer picture to help move us ahead in preventing leaky tanks from contaminating water supplies across the state.”

The report is available online at: