Lawmakers and supporters of the exemptions have said the point was to not duplicate regulation or permitting requirements that tanks covered by exemptions are already subject to under other state or federal regulatory programs.
However, during Thursday's Judiciary meeting, DEP officials made it clear that not all the categories of exempt tanks are subject to mandatory inspections or specific safety or integrity standards.
For example, Lewis Halstead, a deputy director of the DEP's Division of Mining and Reclamation, reminded lawmakers that his agency is mandated under state strip-mining laws to periodically inspect all coal operations. However, those inspections, Halstead said, do not include testing the structural integrity of chemical storage tanks -- including those at preparation plants that might contain coal-cleaning chemicals, such as MCHM.
Also, James Martin, director of the DEP's Office of Oil and Gas, said his agency likewise doesn't do tank integrity testing -- and isn't required to conduct periodical natural gas site inspections.
"There are times when those sites are inspected," Martin said. "There is not a routine or mandatory inspection frequency. We don't have that in our rule or statute."
Huffman said he doesn't want to make owners of tanks covered by other laws get new permits but simply wants to be able to amend their existing permits to require compliance with tank integrity standards.
Huffman said he hopes to meet soon with House Judiciary Chairman Tim Manchin, D-Marion, to discuss the matter.
Reach Ken Ward Jr. at kw...@wvgazette.com or 304-348-1702.