"Loss of Investigators Slows Key Federal Chemical Safety Agency"

"Trump moved to gut the Chemical Safety Board in 2017"

"The federal agency that frequently investigates chemical disasters in Houston and elsewhere is struggling to function amid an exodus of investigators and management’s push toward more lenient treatment of industry, interviews and documents show.

The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is down from 20 investigators to 12. With the recent departure of its chairwoman, its five-member board now only has three members with no indication that the Trump administration, which has recommended eliminating the agency, will replace anyone.

The safety board uncovered the festering problems at BP that led its Texas City refinery to explode, killing 15 and injuring 180 in 2005, and its report led to a reformed corporate safety culture. The board showed how loose regulations and poor communication doomed 15 Texas firefighters at West Fertilizer in 2013, leading to new Texas rules on ammonium nitrate. And when four workers died at DuPont’s La Porte pesticide plant in 2014, only the CSB had the independence and expertise to call out the management failures and botched emergency response."

Matt Dempsey reports for the Houston Chronicle June 8, 2018.

Source: Houston Chronicle, 06/12/2018