ACS News Service Weekly PressPac: April 15, 2015

How probes into the Chemical Safety Board could hurt its mission

"Chemical Safety Board in Flux"
Chemical & Engineering News

The head of the embattled Chemical Safety Board (CSB) was forced to step down in March just three months shy of his planned exit. But rather than signal an end to an era, the ouster has instead served to highlight the ongoing troubles of the independent agency, which is charged with investigating industrial accidents. Chemical & Engineering News (C&EN), the weekly newsmagazine of the American Chemical Society, parses the political fray.

Jeff Johnson, a contributing editor at C&EN, notes that Rafael Moure-Eraso served as chairman of the CSB for nearly five years. During that time, a congressional committee launched an investigation into the internal management of the agency. Former staff had complained of management failures and called the work environment “toxic” during Moure-Eraso’s tenure. But even now that he is out of the picture, another committee is seeking documents related to recent CSB decisions.

Not everyone is onboard with the direction of the investigations and their results however. Local leaders and union workers in one city where a refinery explosion sent 15,000 people to area medical centers have sung the CSB’s praises for its response to the crisis. And one major union coalition has criticized the probes for directing attention away from the board’s reason for being: chemical safety.

A refinery explosion prompted the Chemical Safety Board to propose new regulations, which in turn led to more troubles for the agency.
Credit: Chemical Safety Board