Turmoil at the Chemical Safety & Hazard Investigation Board continues as CSB is poised to fire its top two staff members who have been on paid leave since June.
In a Nov. 16 letter, CSB member Kristen Kulinowski, a chemist, recommends terminating Daniel Horowitz, CSB managing director. His firing is called for because of misconduct and “conduct unbecoming a federal employee,” she writes in the letter to Horowitz, citing allegations made by CSB employees.
The letter was released by Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility (PEER), a watchdog group that is representing Horowitz, a 15-year CSB staffer. The board would not provide C&EN with details about the possible firing of Horowitz and Richard Loeb, CSB general counsel. Loeb and his attorney did not respond to requests for comment.
CSB Chair Vanessa Allen Sutherland will make the final decision regarding their terminations after mid-December.
Members of Congress have sought the firing of Horowitz and Loeb after lengthy investigations by an oversight committee and the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General, which alleged that the two mismanaged the agency and retaliated against CSB employees. Lawmakers and the inspector general lodged similar criticisms against former CSB chair Rafael Moure-Eraso, which led to his forced resignation in March.
If Sutherland fires the two, she will be free to fill the positions. However, PEER argues that the allegations are groundless and is preparing to challenge them.
Meanwhile, CSB has not investigated a chemical accident since last February, its longest inactive period. Over this time, the U.S. has had some 19 chemically related industrial accidents with 16 fatalities, PEER says.