One of the biggest consequences following the Freedom Industries spill is Senate Bill 373, which allows the state to regulate above ground storage facilities.
"It's new to us because we're never regulated tanks this way,” said DEP Secretary Randy Huffman. “We've never done an above ground tank inspection."
Under the new law, the DEP will inspect facilities annually, checking for records and obvious violations. A heavier emphasis will be placed in “zones of critical concern” or areas that are closest to the state’s 300 public water intakes. Another key component requires an independent company to inspect and certify the tanks on an annual basis.
"These third party certifications are actually a more robust, intense set of protocol designed to do testing on the tank, testing on the secondary containment, and testing on the monitoring wells to make sure they're all functioning,” he said.
The DEP is expected to hire an additional ten to fifteen people to oversee these inspections. They will be done once a year, but some people say that’s not frequent enough.
“If it were up to me, I'd make sure they were looked at every 60 days,” said Shane Walker, a Charleston resident. “And you may look for holes and of course for soil contamination"
Even with increased scrutiny, DEP officials say there's always a chance violations will slip past their eyes.
'You’re greatest risk to human health and safety is going to be things from things that are abandoned or things that are being deliberately hidden that a regulatory committee may never pick up on,” said Huffman.
But officials say they are hopeful these new inspections will target safety in an industry that's never been regulated.