Washington, DC, February 8, 2006 - The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) today issued a report to Congress concerning its incident screening process, noting that the agency screened a total of 645 U.S. chemical incidents during the twelve-month period from July 1, 2004, to June 30, 2005.
The full report, which is available from the Board's website, CSB.gov, was submitted to Congress and the Office of Management and Budget this week.
The report was developed to explain the difference between the number of chemical incidents that fall within the agency's statutory investigative jurisdiction and the number actually investigated. The report describes the CSB's scoring system which is used to help to evaluate the hundreds of incidents that occur each year and determine which ones warrant deployment of investigators. Each incident is scored by evaluating factors such as injuries/fatalities, public evacuation, ecosystem damage, potential for consequences, learning potential, property losses, public concern, and the history of the company.
During the period covered by the report, the agency deployed investigators to incident scenes seven times, resulting in five significant investigations. The majority of the 645 incidents were relatively inconsequential, but the report also lists some serious incidents for which the Board considered a deployment, but did not act due to resource constraints.
CSB Chairman Carolyn Merritt said, "The agency reviews a large number of chemical incidents. Fortunately, most of them have only minor consequences. However, there are some serious incidents that occurred during this period that the Board was unable to investigate because CSB staff were already committed to other investigations. This demonstrates that additional investigative work for the agency does exist."
The CSB receives information about incidents from a variety of sources, including media reports, the National Response Center, and the National Transportation Safety Board. As the report notes, the incidents in the screening database do not comprise an exhaustive list of all the chemical incidents that occurred in the country during the year.
The CSB is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. The agency's board members are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. CSB investigations look into all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems, regulations, and industry standards.
The Board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups, and regulatory agencies such as OSHA and EPA. Visit our website, www.csb.gov.
For more information, contact Public Affairs Specialist Kara Wenzel at (202) 261-7642 / (202) 577-8448 cell, or Director of Public Affairs Dr. Daniel Horowitz at (202) 261-7613 / (202) 441-6074 cell.