A state bill intends to notify water utilities of industrial spills more effectively.
The bill, which was authored by Rep. Ryan Hatfield (D-Evansville), requires the party responsible to notify water utilities and water treatment plants when a spill or other release could cause a threat to operations. It comes after a chemical spill from northwest Indiana steelmaker ArcelorMittal killed about 3,000 fish in a Lake Michigan waterway.
When spills happen, companies might notify state and local governments, according to Justin Schneider, director of consumer affairs for Indiana American Water. The facility had to temporarily shut down its Ogden Dunes facility due to the ArcelorMittal spill.
“We're not necessarily getting those phone calls. And this bill is really to ensure that all water utilities that could be impacted around the state would get a phone call,” said Schneider.
At what point companies that exceed their chemical limits should alert water utilities is still yet to be determined, reported WFYI. There should also be no redundancies with what notifications companies are already required to do.
This bill is more reasonable than a similar measure by Rep. Pat Boy (D-Michigan City) which didn’t pass, according to IMA Assistant Vice President of Governmental Affairs Malika Butler. Said measure would have required companies to alert all those potentially affected when it exceeds its chemical limits, even if those stakeholders wouldn’t be affected.
“We wouldn't want to stress out a community on something that may not be a threat to human health,” said Butler.
Hatfield's measure passed unanimously in the House and is now moving on to the Senate for consideration, reported WFYI.