CHARLESTON, W.Va. (WTAP) - 12/17/2019
Local lawmakers remain skeptical about legislation proposed to address the presence of PFAS chemicals in West Virginia drinking water supplies.
Del. Evan Hansen and fellow Democrats officially announced Monday plans to introduce the bill in the upcoming legislative session.
Local lawmakers argue the movie "Dark Waters", said to have influenced the bill, is biased against DuPont, and tells only one side of the story.
"There's a lot of scientific data that says C8 isn't harmful," Republican Senator Mike Azinger said Tuesday, "and DuPont's been a job provider in the valley for years and years, and they deserve to have their side of the story told."
DuPont issued a statement in November, before the movie's release, saying it disrepresented events that happened years ago.
Wood County Delegate John Kelly, Vice-Chairman of the House Energy Committee which could consider the legislation, says his staff is looking to see if some of the bill's provisions are already addressed in existing water quality standards.
"There have been a lot of changes in water quality standards in the past 30 years," Kelly said Tuesday.
Kelly added millions of dollars already have been spent to address water quality issues.
A group of West Virginia lawmakers have announced plans to introduce a bill in January that would address pollution in drinking water from the chemicals depicted in the recently released movie “Dark Waters,” according to a House of Delegates news release on Thursday.
Del. Evan Hansen, D-Monongalia, and several other lawmakers will sponsor the bill, which would require the identification of sources of the chemicals so that contamination of rivers and streams used as drinking water sources can be stopped.
The legislation, set to be introduced sometime after the Legislature convenes in January, would also require the development of science-based clean drinking-water standards that would be used by public water systems.
Officials have planned a news conference to discuss the legislation for 10 a.m. Monday at the State Capitol Building in Charleston.
None of the Mid-Ohio Valley lawmakers contacted by WTAP on Thursday was aware of the bill, but Republican Del. Vernon Criss of Wood County said it’s possible some parts of the bill are already covered through the state Department of Environmental Protection.
“Dark Waters” tells a story about people affected after Dupont discharged the chemical C8 into the Ohio River without regulation before being held accountable in court.
The bill focus on a variety of chemicals, including per- and polyfluoroalkyl substances (PFASs), which are man-made chemicals that include PFOA, PFOS, GenX, and many other chemicals.
PFAS have been manufactured and used in a variety of industries since the 1940s. These chemicals are persistent in the environment and in the human body, meaning they do not break down and can accumulate over time.
“We owe it to the people who were sickened, and to the family members of those who were killed, to properly regulate these toxic chemicals,” said Hansen, the bill’s lead sponsor. “We’re taking a systematic approach to identify and reduce the sources of these chemicals so that we can ensure that tap water is clean.”
Delegates will also re-introduce House Joint Resolution 25, a constitutional amendment first introduced in the 2019 legislative session. It would add a section to the West Virginia Bill of Rights that states: “The people have a right to clean air, pure water, and the preservation of the natural, scenic, historic, and esthetic values of the environment.”