Issue Date: March 31, 2008
New Leadership For Safety Board
JOHN BRESLAND GAINED Senate approval on March 14 to lead the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB). Bresland has been a board member since 2002; when the term of former chair Carolyn Merritt drew to a close last summer, he was nominated for an additional five-year term, this time to head CSB, an independent federal agency charged with investigating chemical accidents.
Among his goals for CSB, Bresland tells C&EN he hopes to increase the board's 40-member staff, as well as the number of investigators and investigations. He would like to see its $10 million annual budget grow by 10%. The board's authority should also be clarified, he says, to ensure it has power to enter a site and secure evidence immediately after an accident. There have been incidents, he notes, where company, state, and local officials have blocked CSB investigators.
The board selects about five to eight accidents annually to investigate. Some are at small factories or even propane explosions at convenience stores; others are huge, such as the explosions at the BP refinery in Texas and at the sugar refinery in Georgia, both of which killed more than a dozen workers (C&EN, Nov. 6, 2006, page 10; C&EN, Feb. 18, page 5).
Bresland also aims to increase CSB's outreach, particularly by producing more safety videos based on CSB investigations. He underscores the influence of these videos: More than 1 million viewers have seen them on the Internet, and some 60,000 safety DVDs have been sought by industry and labor unions.
Before joining CSB, Bresland led a New Jersey chemical process safety consulting firm and was a staff consultant to the Center for Chemical Process Safety of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers (AIChE). Until August 2000, he was environmental risk management director for Honeywell International, where he was responsible for compliance regulations at 20 U.S. facilities. His Honeywell career stretches back 35 years, when he worked in process engineering, environmental compliance, project management, and manufacturing. He was also plant manager of Honeywell's phenol and acetone manufacturing plant in Philadelphia.
Bresland holds degrees in chemistry from Londonderry Technical College in Northern Ireland and Salford University in England. He is a member of AIChE and the American Chemical Society.
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