Chemical Safety Board Chief Steps Down | April 6, 2015 Issue - Vol. 93 Issue 14 | Chemical & Engineering News
Volume 93 Issue 14 | p. 8 | News of The Week
Issue Date: April 6, 2015 | Web Date: April 2, 2015

Chemical Safety Board Chief Steps Down

Investigations: Rafael Moure-Eraso resigns under White House pressure, charges of mismanagement
Department: Government & Policy | Collection: Safety
Keywords: Chemical Safety Board, resignation, mismanagement, accidents, investigations
CSB is without a chair now that Moure-Eraso is gone.
Credit: CSB
Rafael Moure-Eraso, chairman of the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board from 2010 to March 2015.
CSB is without a chair now that Moure-Eraso is gone.
Credit: CSB

The chairman of the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) has resigned at the request of the White House. Members of Congress had called on President Barack Obama to fire Rafael Moure-Eraso, charging that he mismanaged the independent agency that investigates accidents at chemical facilities.

Moure-Eraso, who had just three months left in his five-year term as head of CSB, announced his resignation to staff in an e-mail on March 26. “It has been a privilege to serve the agency since June 2010,” the e-mail said.

“My wishes are for the continued success and productivity of the Board. I am forever grateful for the hard work of the agency that has led to so many successes over the past five years,” Moure-Eraso wrote.

His tenure was marked by turmoil at the agency and charges that he delayed investigations and created a toxic work environment that led to low employee morale and staff attrition.

House lawmakers have signaled that they intend to continue scrutinizing CSB. In a March 27 letter, the leaders of the Energy & Commerce Committee asked the remaining three board members to explain a series of recent controversial management decisions.

In January, for instance, the board consolidated authority in the chairman’s office over personnel, spending, investigations, communications, and general administration of CSB.

“We request your assistance to help the committee understand recent board actions and related decisions to assess how … they may affect future CSB mission performance, and what should be done to ensure the appropriate governance of the agency,” wrote Reps. Fred Upton (R-Mich.), the panel’s chairman, and Frank Pallone (D-N.J.), its ranking member.

The five-member CSB panel has two vacant seats. Obama has nominated Vanessa Allen Sutherland, a Department of Transportation lawyer, to become the board’s next chief. Obama has also nominated chemist Kristen M. Kulinowski, a staff member at think tank Science & Technology Policy Institute, to replace Beth J. Rosenberg, who resigned from her position last year.

The White House plans to appoint CSB member Manuel Ehrlich as interim chairman pending the Senate’s confirmation of Sutherland.

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Ron Myers (April 12, 2015 8:20 AM)
Finally! Mr. Moure-Eraso's departure was long overdue. This critically important CSB obviously requires strong and respected leadership, qualities that have clearly been lacking in this individual!

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