Web Date: August 22, 2008
Chemical Safety Board Plans Expansion
The Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board is recruiting accident investigators to staff a new office in Denver. It would be the first CSB office outside the Washington, D.C., area.
The board has been seeking chemical engineers, chemists, and others with expertise relevant to accident investigation for the Denver office, which could include a staff of five or six, says John Bresland, CSB chairman.
"Establishing a presence in the western states potentially will allow CSB to recruit more effectively, to deploy investigators more quickly to accident sites, and to maintain important contacts with stakeholders throughout the country," Bresland tells C&EN. "Expanding into other locations will help us grow our capacity to investigate more of the serious chemical accidents that occur each year across the U.S."
CSB has had difficulty in the past finding experienced chemical accident investigators who were willing to move to Washington, D.C., Bresland adds. So, he says, the board decided, "If it doesn???t work to move them here, let???s see what we can do in other parts of the country."
The board first considered locating an office in Houston due to the large chemical industry presence there, but CSB has a senior investigation manager already living in Denver, which would give CSB easier access to both Texas and the West Coast than it has now.
The regional office is not a done deal yet, Bresland says. Much will depend on the quality of those applying for the positions and whether Congress will provide adequate funding for the office. He is considering locating the office in the Denver Federal Center, in Lakewood, Colo., a few miles outside downtown Denver, where space and needed infrastructure are available. Expenses there, he says, should be lower than in Washington, D.C.
A Denver office would allow CSB to more quickly get to chemical plant accidents on the West Coast, in the Midwest, and in Houston. Houston remains under consideration for a regional office in the future, Bresland adds. But a decision will depend on how the move to Denver works out, he says. The recruitment effort will end Sept. 4.
Congressional appropriations committees, Bresland says, support establishing regional CSB offices but so far have not provided additional funds. "My goal is to move forward on this," he says, "but it will depend on several factors and remains in the early stage of evaluation."
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