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New Chemical Safety Board member says she’s ready to get to work


Photo: Catherine Sandoval

Washington — Although still navigating the federal onboarding process since her Dec. 13 Senate confirmation, Chemical Safety Board member-in-waiting Catherine J.K. Sandoval spoke during the agency’s Jan. 26 public business meeting.

“The incidents that the Chemical Safety Board addresses, these are often lose-lose-lose-lose calamities,” Sandoval said. “They may injure or kill workers; cause community harms – including injury, death, property damage and loss of job opportunities; release hazardous chemicals into the environment and into the water, air and land; and generate losses for investors and insurers.

“The goal of preventing these losses is important for all of us.”

No start date for Sandoval has been determined. When her formal work begins, she’ll join Chair Steve Owens and CSB member Sylvia Johnson to fill three seats on the five-member board, returning a quorum to the short-staffed agency.

Addressing Sandoval at the beginning of her own remarks, Johnson said: “I’m confident that your contributions will prove invaluable to the work ahead.”

In the interim, Owens called CSB’s completion of six investigation reports over the last half of the past year an “incredible achievement for this agency” on the heels of a 10-month stretch in which no reports were issued. The agency aims to complete its investigative backlog by the end of the calendar year, Owens said, citing an updated timeline posted online.

CSB’s website, as of Jan. 26, showed that 87% of agency investigations were closed.

Owens added that CSB recently completed an update of its strategic plan, which had expired in 2021. He noted that previous agency leadership “did not take any action” to do so.

The Senate confirmed Owens as CSB chair on Dec. 13. He was nominated in July by President Joe Biden.

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