General Assembly approves new reporting requirements for discharges of deleterious substances into state waters

March 5, 2020

Legislation enhancing the requirements for reporting discharges of deleterious substances into state waters has now been approved by each chamber of the General Assembly.

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 first passed the House of Delegates by a vote of 59-37 and passed the Senate 40-0 with slight amendments.  The Senate’s additional amendments were taken up by the full House earlier this week and ultimately passed by a vote of 60-38.  HB 1205 will now be referred to the Governor.

VACo Contact: Chris McDonald, Esq.

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