Senate panel clears bill aimed at preventing chemical spills similar to West Virginia accident

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WASHINGTON – A Senate panel has cleared a bill that would boost state oversight of chemical storage facilities, following the West Virginia chemical spill.

The Environment and Public Works committee in a bipartisan voice vote Thursday advanced the measure. The bill would require states to inspect chemical storage facilities regularly and to identify tanks near drinking water supplies. Companies would also have to develop state-approved emergency plans.

The tank that leaked a coal-cleaning chemical into a West Virginia river in January was upstream from a drinking water source serving 300,000 residents, but it was rarely inspected. For days, residents were told to not drink the water.

Sen. Joe Manchin is the West Virginia Democrat who spearheaded the legislation, saying no one should have their drinking water tainted by chemicals.

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