article critic

The Article Critique is required to be a minimum of two pages to a maximum of four pages, double-spaced, APA style,

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from the journals and articles available in our CSU Library Databases. The article should deal with any of the material


presented in the first three units of this course. The article itself must be more than one page in length. The article critique


should include the following components:



A brief introduction of the article


Analysis of the key points in the article


Application and comparison of some points in the article that might be applied to the company you work for, or




have worked for



Summary of the article’s conclusions and your own opinions




the article is:

Policy fíriefing


Senate Bill Aims to Prevent Chemical


Contamination of Surface Water




IHE CHEMICAL spill that




‘ recently occurred in West


Virginia and interrupted


water deliveries to approximately


300,000 of that


state’s residents has led to the introduction


of federal legislation aimed at preventing


the recurrence of such events.


Although improved protection of surface


water enjoys broad support, questions


have arisen as to who should oversee


and fijnd the additional regulatory


efforts called for in the bill.


On January 9 it was discovered that


thousands of gallons of chemicals used in


coal processing had leaked from storage


facilities at a tank farm located along the


Elk River in Charleston, West Virginia.


The chemicals entered the waterway approximately


1.5 mi upstream of a public


water supply intake, forcing officials


to recommend that residents of a ninecounty


area in and around Charleston


not use their drinking water. Lasting for


more than a week, this situation caused


considerable concern about health effects


and spurred calls for regulatory




On January 27 Senator Joe Manchin


(D-West Virginia) introduced the


Chemical Safety and Drinking Water


Protection Act of 2014 (S. 1961), legislation


that aims to protect surface water


from contamination from chemical


storage facilities. The bill would revise


the Safe Drinking Water Act to establish


state programs for overseeing and


inspecting chemical storage facilities


that are deemed to pose a risk to public


water sources. Within one year of enactment


of the legislation, states would


have to set requirements for chemical


storage facilities covered by the new


programs. These requirements would


address such topics as “acceptable standards


of good design, construction, or


maintenance,” along with leak detection,


spill and overfill control, inventory


control, inspections of facility integrity.


and life-cycle maintenance, according to


the legislation.


Additional requirements would pertain


to emergency response and communication


plans, employee training and


safety plans, and the financial responsibility


of the owners of chemical storage


facilities. States would share with drinking


water providers the emergency response


plans for chemical storage facilities


located within the same watershed,


along with an inventory of each chemical


stored at each facility.


Under S. 1961 states also would impose


minimum inspection requirements


for chemical storage facilities covered


by the new program. In particular, facilities


regarded by states as potential


contamination sources under existing


drinking water protection plans would


have to be inspected every thtee years,


while all other facilities would have to


be inspected every five years. The legislation


does not stipulate the entity that


would conduct such inspections. What


is more, ownership of chemical storage


facilities covered by the state ptogtams


could not be transferred unless the facility


in question had been inspected and


the new owner agreed to take appropriate


measures to address the results of the


inspection within 30 days of assuming




In the event of an emergency, a drinking


water provider would be able to take


such legal steps as seeking a restraining


order or a temporary or permanent injunction


“to address any activity or facility


that may present an imminent


and substantial endangerment to the


health of persons” served by the water


provider, according to S. 1961. Meanwhile,


states forced to conduct emergency


response activities as a result of the release


of chemicals from a storage facility


would have the right to recover from the


facility owner any costs associated with


the response.


The Chemical Safety and Drinking


Water Protection Act of 2014 was referred


to the Senate Committee on Environment


and Public Works, which


is chaired by Senatot Batbara Boxer


(D-California), a cosponsor of the bill.


On February 4 that committee’s Water


and Wildlife Subcommittee held a


hearing to investigate the chemical spill


in West Virginia. Discussing the accident


in Charleston, Senator Ben Cardin


(D-Maryland), the subcommittee


chair, noted that the existing regulatory


framework for ensuring public health


“did not work on January ninth.” Rather,


the “system failed,” he said.


This assessment was seconded by


Erik Olson, the senior strategic director


for health and food at the Natural


Resources Defense Council, of New


York City. Testifying before the subcommittee,


Olson voiced his support


for S. 1961, although he contended


that inspections of chemical storage


facilities should be conducted annually


rather than, as called for in the bill,


every thtee or five years. He also called


upon Congress to provide increased


funding for treatment facilities as part


of the Drinking Water State Revolving


Fund, noting that such funding


would help communities install treatment


systems better able to protect


people from contaminants in sutface




In the event of a chemical spill to surface


waters, drinking water providers


would benefit from having advance information


about the types of chemicals


present in their watersheds, said Brent


Fewell, a partner in the Washington,


D.C., office of Troutman Sanders LLP.


Testifying on behalf of United Water,


of Harrington Park, New Jersey, Fewell


expressed support for the legislation’s


provisions calling for states to share with


drinking water providers information


about chemicals stored in their watersheds.


However, Fewell voiced concern


that water utilities serving large areas


might be inundated with more information


than they could handle. “It will


do no good to simply dump reams of


paper and data on these systems and expect


the problem to go away,” he said.



[ 1 4 ] C i v i l E n g i n e e r i n g M A R C H 2 0 1 4


Instead, priority should be given to providing


utilities with information about


the chemical storage facilities that are


closest to their drinking water sources,


Fewell noted.


Some witnesses advised the senators


to exercise legislative restraint rather


than hurriedly pass a bill in the wake


of the Charleston spill. For example,


Richard Faulk, a partner in the Washington,


D.C, law firm of Hollingsworth


LLP, argued that local and state


officials in West Virginia should be allowed


to investigate the causes of the


recent accident and develop responses


that address the circumstances there.


“A one-size-fits-all federal approach


may sometimes even reduce safety by


preempting broader or more effectively


tailored solutions that are already


working,” Faulk said.


Boxet rebuffed such a hands-off approach,


maintaining that the threat of


chemical spills nationwide necessitated


a federal response. “We’ve got a massive


problem,” she said, noting that no


firm figures exist regarding the number


of aboveground storage tanks that


are located near drinking water supplies.


“We need an assessment” of the extent


to which such storage facilities pose a


threat to water supplies, Boxer said, arguing


that S. 1961 would provide the


best way to achieve this goal.


The question of who is to pay for


the regulatory activities called for in


S. 1961 was raised in a February 3 letter


to the Water and Wildlife Subcommittee


sent by the American Water Works


Association, of Denver, and the Association


of Metropolitan Water Agencies, of


Washington, D.C. Much like the federal


government, “most state governments


are operating under very tight or


declining budgets,” the groups stated in


their letter. “Therefore, any new chemical


facility-monitoring program


enacted tinder {the Safe


Drinking Water Act] must


include a sufficient authorization


to offset at least some


of the implementation costs.


Otherwise, these new activities


will come at the expense


of other ongoing water quality


oversight activities or badly


needed infrastructure investments.”


As introduced, S. 1961 includes no provisions


authorizing additional fianding


to cover the activities it would require


of states.


Others question whether the Safe


Drinking Water Act is the appropriate


legislative vehicle for a new program


intended to regulate chemical storage


facilities. For example, Jim Taft, the


executive director of the Association


of State Drinking Water Administrators,


which has its headquarters in Arlington,


Virginia, supports the overall


goals of S. 1961 but notes, “We are concerned


about state drinking water programs


being the implementer” of such


a program. State drinking water progtams


oversee approximately


150,000 public water systems,


Taft says, but have no


experience collecting chemical


inventories and inspecting


chemical storage facilities.





Jay Landers is a contributing




editor to Civil Engineering






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