(HARRISBURG, PA)—Harry Campbell, executive director for the Chesapeake Bay Foundation (CBF) in Pennsylvania, issued this statement after the state Senate's narrow vote to approve Senate Bill 619, which would redefine the term "pollution" in the Clean Streams Law, and potentially allow for certain spills and discharges to go unreported and unregulated.
Senate Bill 619 was sent to the state House of Representatives for consideration.
According to the bill, accidental discharges, spills or releases that do not rise to a limited list of numeric water quality criteria, for such factors as temperature or color, would no longer be considered as pollution.
In SB619 the potential polluter would determine whether the numeric water quality standard was violated.
As Senate Bill 619 amends the Clean Streams Law, fewer spills and discharges would be reportable to the Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) and would not be required to be done in a timely manner.
Current law requires that any accidental spill or discharge be reported immediately to DEP and, if reasonably possible, to downstream users of the waters as well.
Mr. Campbell said:
"Senate Bill 619 will make it easier to pollute the Commonwealth's rivers and streams and with fewer consequences. Water quality in Pennsylvania should not be regulated by just by the limited list of numeric water quality criteria. Timely response and remediation are critical.
"A spill or discharge caused a fish kill in the Donegal Creek. The Mariner East II liquid natural gas pipeline has been plagued with spills. In 2017, 63,000 gallons of natural gas drilling waste spilled into the tributary of the Loyalsock Creek. If Senate Bill 619 passes, spills like these may go unchecked."
"We urge members of the House to consider the consequences Senate Bill 619 could have on aquatic life, recreation, and drinking water supplies."