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Republicans Seek Ouster Of Chemical Safety Board Chairman

Oversight: Congressmen ask President Obama to fire Rafael Moure-Eraso

by Jeff Johnson
July 11, 2014 | A version of this story appeared in Volume 92, Issue 28

Several Republicans in the House of Representatives are continuing their push to dump the head of the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board. They are asking President Barack Obama to fire CSB Chairman Rafael Moure-Eraso.

In a July 7 letter, six congressmen repeat allegations made at a turbulent hearing in June before the House Oversight & Government Reform Committee. At the hearing, committee chairman Darrell E. Issa (R-Calif.) blasted Moure-Eraso’s leadership. Issa also released a Republican committee staff report that criticizes CSB for “serious management deficiencies” and lays primary blame on Moure-Eraso. During the hearing, Issa and other Republicans urged Moure-Eraso to step down (C&EN, June 30, page 5).

The criticisms pertain to delayed reports on industrial accidents and internal disputes among CSB members and staffers. Moure-Eraso and top managers were also castigated for inefficiency and creating a “toxic” work environment. In the report, unnamed staff members allege that Moure-Eraso is “bullying” and “abusive.”

In the weeks following the hearing, Moure-Eraso said he would not resign. He announced reforms he said would improve CSB management.

Moure-Eraso tells C&EN that the complaints against him are in large part political, noting that no Democrats had signed the letter to Obama. CSB is moving forward, he says. It will hold a hearing July 16 in Charleston, W.Va., to release its final report on the AL Solutions industrial dust accident in West Virginia that killed three workers in 2010. CSB will also provide an update on its investigation of the Freedom Industries tank farm leak that contaminated West Virginia drinking water earlier this year.

The letter signers are Issa, Reps. Lamar S. Smith (R-Texas), John L. Mica (R-Fla.), Michael R. Turner (R-Ohio), Jason Chaffetz (R-Utah), and Paul A. Gosar (R-Ariz.).

The White House did not respond to C&EN’s inquiries about the letter.



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