Report: Chemical Safety Board in disarray, fostering abusive work environment

HOUSTON — A probe by two Congressional committees has found that the U.S. Chemical Safety Board is in turmoil and failing to fulfill its investigative duties for serious accidents at refineries and chemical plants, according to Reuters.

The draft report concludes that leaders at the federal agency, which has criticized energy industry practices in the aftermath of the 2010 Gulf oil spill and other major accidents, have created an “abusive and hostile work environment,” Reuters wrote. That has caused experienced investigators to leave the agency and important investigations into sometimes-fatal explosions and other important incidents to go unfinished.

Reuters notes that the report targets the Chemical Safety Board’s deep and expensive investigation into the cause of the fatal 2010 Gulf oil spill as a reason for its delays on reviews of other incidents. The board released a hefty two-volume draft report on that investigation earlier this month, amid charges that it was outside of the agency’s jurisdiction and added little to the already expansive findings other investigative groups.

Reuters said it obtained the report, prepared by the House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform and the Committee on Science Space and Technology, ahead of its planned release later Thursday.

The Committee on Oversight and Government Reform is scheduled to hold a hearing on the report Thursday morning.