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CSB clarifies board member roles, responsibilities

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Photo: CSB

Washington — During an April 2 public business meeting, the Chemical Safety Board announced it has revised a board order on board member roles and responsibilities in response to criticism of the agency in recent reports from the Environmental Protection Agency Office of Inspector General.

CSB Chair and CEO Katherine Lemos called the measure “a major step forward for the efficiency of the agency,” which has carried on with only one of its five board seats filled since Kristen Kulinowski stepped down May 1 – three months before her five-year term was set to expire.

EPA OIG’s most recent report on CSB – issued in July – found that various management challenges – namely the abundance of board vacancies and unclear policy on board member responsibilities – “will impede the ability of the CSB to function effectively.”

The revised board order outlines multiple responsibilities of board members, including:

  • Voting on investigation reports, safety studies, special investigations and other board products related to chemical incidents and hazards
  • Voting on and advocating the resolution of safety recommendations to federal, state and local agencies; private organizations; and members of the public pertaining to reducing recurrences of chemical incidents
  • Voting on reports of cause or probable cause(s) of chemical incidents, reporting all necessary information, and making and advocating public safety recommendations
  • Propose amendments in accordance with the product review process, to the extent possible and as desired, to any agenda item at least two days before any public meeting scheduled to consider that item
  • Prepare for and participate in site visits, as necessary or appropriate
  • Prepare for and participate in public hearings and other safety inquiries
  • Complete all training on schedule

Lemos anticipates this action “will allow me to focus on my work as a board member and chairman, as well as provide a governance architecture that allows new board members … to be successful.”

During the meeting, acting CSB managing director David LaCerte said the agency is thankful for the consultations it had with EPA OIG and other agencies in the benchmarking process.

 

“We hope these newly defined lanes will minimize long-standing prior issues of board infighting and promote a more collegial and collaborative practice among prospective board members,” LaCerte said. “We are eager to onboard additional board members for the new administration after appointment and after Senate confirmation. We are pleased to have this board order so they can hit the ground running to accomplish their objectives.”

Lemos later thanked industry stakeholders who have responded to agency requests for updates and interaction regarding CSB recommendations.

“We know that recommendations are an important tool for the CSB and that our independent and objective advocacy for change directly drives chemical safety,” she said.

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