The House of Delegates has approved new requirements for reporting discharges of deleterious substances into state waters.
HB 1205 (Tran) requires that the Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) shall provide to the Virginia Department of Health (VDH) and local newspapers, television stations, and radio stations, and shall report via official social media accounts and email notification lists, any information pertaining to the discharge of deleterious substances (chemicals, oils, sewage, etc.) into state waters, unless the DEQ determines that the discharge will have a de minimis impact. Current law only requires that the DEQ provide this information to the local newspapers.
As originally introduced, HB 1205 was troubling and earned opposition from VACo and others, as it narrowed the reporting window from 24 hours to 8 hours. Due to concerns over the feasibility of such reporting, however, this was later amended first to 12 hours and then again back to 24 hours.
As amended, HB 1205 passed out of the House Committee on Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources by a vote of 14-8 and passed the full House of Delegates by a vote of 59-37. The Bill has now been referred to the Senate Committee on Agriculture, Conservation and Natural Resources where it will be heard in the coming weeks.
VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.