Washington, DC, February 2, 2015 – The U.S. Chemical Safety Board (CSB) today released its annual budget justification, accompanying the president’s budget request of $12.271 million for the CSB for fiscal year 2016. Representing an increase over previous years’ budgets, the additional funds would enable the agency to hire multiple investigators to support new chemical incident investigations, a recommendations specialist to promote the Board’s Most Wanted Safety Improvements program, and a records management specialist to implement the President’s Open Government Initiative.
“The requested funds will allow the Chemical Safety Board to initiate more chemical incident investigations, advocate for critical safety recommendations, and promote increased awareness of agency safety findings; these are all mission-critical,” said CSB Chairperson Rafael Moure-Eraso. “The CSB will develop a more robust outreach plan to support critical safety issues described in the agency’s Most Wanted Safety Improvements program.” CSB investigations and safety recommendations – aimed at facilities, companies, industries and government regulators such as OSHA and the EPA—are designed to prevent accidents, save lives, and protect communities. The CSB continues to work with recommendations recipients and has successfully closed 65% of its 737 recommendations.
In its annual budget justification for Congress, the Board noted a number of recent successes, including the completion of reports on major incidents at the Tesoro Anacortes Refinery that fatally injured seven workers; the Chevron Richmond Refinery chemical release and fire that endangered 19 workers; and two accidents involving combustible dust at the AL Solutions facility in New Cumberland, West Virginia, and US Ink facility in East Rutherford, New Jersey. The CSB also issued two safety bulletins on the danger of hydraulic shock in facilities handling ammonia and the hazards associated with methanol demonstrations in educational facilities. Finally, the CSB issued two reports on the Macondo/Deepwater Horizon blowout that occurred in the Gulf of Mexico in April 2010, which for the first time provided a detailed technical explanation why the rig’s blowout preventer failed to operate properly, allowing the huge release of oil and hydrocarbons into the Gulf.
“Despite limited resources in recent years, the Board’s investigative docket is down to six cases as compared to 22 open investigations in June 2010. Investigators and staff have worked non-stop to accomplish this progress. With the additional resources requested in the 2016 budget and the elimination of the investigation backlog, the CSB can focus on completing timely investigations of serious new incidents across the chemical and petrochemical industries,” Dr. Moure-Eraso said. The proposed budget calls for 53 full-time equivalent employees (FTE’s), including about 30 investigators.
The request for a new recommendations specialist follows the Board’s December 2014 vote to add modernizing the U.S. Process Safety Management Standard to the agency’s Most Wanted Safety Improvements program. The PSM standard is a broad set of regulatory requirements aimed at assuring safety in the chemical industry. The creation of an OSHA combustible dust standard was named the CSB’s first Most Wanted issue in July 2013.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating serious chemical accidents. The agency’s board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in regulations, industry standards, and safety management systems.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to facilities, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.