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Senate OKs Storage Tank Safety Bill

February 5, 2011

By Alyx Duckett
Capital News Service

RICHMOND — The Senate has unanimously passed a bill setting stricter environmental requirements for above-ground fuel storage tanks at the Fairfax city “tank farm.”

Senators voted 40-0 Thursday in favor of Senate Bill 843, sponsored by Sen. J. Chapman Petersen, D-Fairfax. The Senate Agriculture and Natural Resources Committee had unanimously endorsed the measure on Monday.

The tank farm on Pickett Road has had only one major spill since 1980 but has experienced minor problems over the past four years.

According to the Fairfax City website, a diesel fuel leak happened in January 2010 at the Pickett Road Terminal Complex. The leak was contained on the property, but such occurrences have caused concerns among nearby residents. In October, city and county leaders held a summit to address the problem.

“Despite the good efforts of our state Department of Environmental Quality, it was evident that assembly action was needed to protect the residents of Fairfax City and Mantua which border the tank farm,” Petersen said.

SB 843 would require tanks built before 1992 to meet the safety standards for newer tanks. For example, older tanks would need a “double bottom” to prevent water contaminating leaks.

The older tanks would have to meet the higher standards by July 1, 2021. The State Water Control Board would develop the new standards.

Delegate David Bulova, D-Fairfax, is sponsoring companion legislation – House Bill 2103.

Bulova’s measure won unanimous approval Thursday from the House Agriculture, Chesapeake and Natural Resources Committee. It is scheduled for consideration by the full House of Delegates.

On the Web

To read about last year’s leak at the Pickett Road Terminal Complex, visit

To track or comment on legislation to upgrade the fuel tanks, see: