By Stephen Lee
Oct. 23 — The Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board must improve employee morale and do more investigations, said the Environmental Protection Agency's inspector general in its latest probe of the agency.
The Oct. 22 report draws on a Republican House committee hearing from 2014 in alleging a toxic work environment, an unproductive work environment and fear of retaliation from the former chair, Rafael Moure-Eraso.
Although the agency has a new chairwoman, Vanessa Sutherland, the IG said the Chemical Safety Board's new leadership “needs to assure that the CSB functions as intended and restores open communication among staff, the board and the chairperson.”
The report further said the CSB isn't investigating all accidents that fall within its legal jurisdiction and should become more active. The agency should also develop a protocol for closing investigations that remain open for longer than three years, which the CSB has already taken some steps to ensure.
Finally, the IG said the CSB should determine the need for a chemical reporting regulation under the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990. The board's ability to do so has been hampered by congressional budget cuts and sequestration, the IG conceded, but the CSB also intends to revisit its rulemaking effort.
Other recommendations addressed purchase cards, program operation, the information security program and electronic records management.
Celeste Monforton, a public health lecturer at George Washington University, praised the report.
“The IG is doing its job sending the required report to the new CSB chair,” Monforton, a former Occupational Safety and Health Administration policy analyst, told Bloomberg BNA Oct. 22. “It simply reiterates the management weaknesses that I'm sure the entire board is well aware. I think any new leader would appreciate the current and concise synopsis by an independent set of eyes of an organization's challenges.”
But Jeff Ruch, executive director of the Public Employees for Environmental Responsibility watchdog group, was critical not only of the latest EPA IG report, but more generally of that agency's ongoing investigations into the CSB.
Ruch noted the inappropriateness of the IG basing its morale claims on a Republican staff report, “as if it were reliable,” and said the recommendation to do more investigations ignores the obvious facts that the CSB not only lacks the budget, but also faces complaints that its investigations take too long.
“For [the IG] to make that point without offering any concrete guidance as to how [the CSB] is supposed to respond, it makes you wonder why they bothered to issue the report,” Ruch told Bloomberg BNA.
He also advanced the theory that the EPA IG has been trying to help House Republicans persecute the CSB, thereby allowing lawmakers to score wins against the spectre of big government, in exchange for political support for a bigger IG budget.
“This report reinforces the notion that their work has been politically targeted in a way that is not helpful in terms of the larger issue of chemical safety,” Ruch said.
The CSB didn't reply to an e-mail for comment on this story.
To contact the reporter on this story: Stephen Lee in Washington at firstname.lastname@example.org
To contact the editor responsible for this story: Larry Pearl at email@example.com
All Bloomberg BNA treatises are available on standing order, which ensures you will always receive the most current edition of the book or supplement of the title you have ordered from Bloomberg BNA’s book division. As soon as a new supplement or edition is published (usually annually) for a title you’ve previously purchased and requested to be placed on standing order, we’ll ship it to you to review for 30 days without any obligation. During this period, you can either (a) honor the invoice and receive a 5% discount (in addition to any other discounts you may qualify for) off the then-current price of the update, plus shipping and handling or (b) return the book(s), in which case, your invoice will be cancelled upon receipt of the book(s). Call us for a prepaid UPS label for your return. It’s as simple and easy as that. Most importantly, standing orders mean you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you’re relying on. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.960.1220 or by sending an email to firstname.lastname@example.org.
Put me on standing order at a 5% discount off list price of all future updates, in addition to any other discounts I may quality for. (Returnable within 30 days.)
Notify me when updates are available (No standing order will be created).
This Bloomberg BNA report is available on standing order, which ensures you will all receive the latest edition. This report is updated annually and we will send you the latest edition once it has been published. By signing up for standing order you will never have to worry about the timeliness of the information you need. And, you may discontinue standing orders at any time by contacting us at 1.800.372.1033, option 5, or by sending us an email to email@example.com.
Put me on standing order
Notify me when new releases are available (no standing order will be created)