Earlier this week, the U.S. Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works (EPW) held a hearing to get the perspectives of various stakeholders regarding the importance of the Chemical Safety Board (CSB). The hearing was also held out of concern for the future of the CSB and to discuss what the White House and Congress can do to help preserve the Board’s future.
What does the CSB do?
The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is an independent agency created by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. When Congress created the CSB it charged the Board with investigating industrial chemical accidents, stating "The principal role of the new chemical safety board is to investigate accidents to determine the conditions and circumstances which led up to the event and to identify the cause or causes so that similar events might be prevented."
During the hearing, ACC’s Chris Jahn explained during his testimony that “The CSB has the important job of independently investigating major accidents and making recommendations. The CSB’s findings are very influential and a catalyst for safety improvements.”
And Shakeel Kadri from Center for Chemical Process Safety noted in his testimony, "the CSB has investigated more than 130 major chemical incidents across the country and has issued 841 safety recommendations, 83 percent of which have been closed. The CSB’s safety reports, bulletins, and videos are widely used and cited by the industrial community, academia, professional associations, first responders, labor, and community leaders. In fact, the CSB’s 68 videos have received 6.4 million views and its YouTube channel has nearly 20,000 followers."
What does ACC want the White House and Senate to do?
The CSB is currently operating with just two board members and will be down to a single board member in February, which has never happened since the Board was created.
“Unfortunately, there is a very real prospect that the Board will soon have only one full member, which is a scenario that ACC and its members would like to avoid,” Jahn warned. “That is why we urge the Administration to nominate additional well-qualified industry and process safety experts to serve on the Board. And, we ask the Senate to confirm those nominees as soon as possible.”
The Senate EPW hearing was a very important step toward avoiding a situation that no one wants – a CSB with no board members. ACC and its members thank Chairman Barrasso and Ranking Member Carper for their leadership and their commitment to safeguarding chemical facilities, workers, the public, and the environment.