U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board

From Wikipedia, the free encyclopedia
Jump to navigation Jump to search
Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
Agency overview
FormedJanuary 1998
Headquarters1751 Pennsylvania Ave N.W., Washington, D.C.
Agency executive

The U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (USCSB), generally referred to[1] as the Chemical Safety Board or CSB, is an independent U.S. federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Headquartered in Washington, D.C., the agency's board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the United States Senate. The CSB conducts root cause investigations of chemical accidents at fixed industrial facilities.[2]


The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is authorized by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990 and became operational in January 1998. The Senate legislative history states: "The principal role of the new chemical safety board is to investigate accidents to determine the conditions and circumstances which led up to the event and to identify the cause or causes so that similar events might be prevented." Congress gave the CSB a unique statutory mission and provided in law that no other agency or executive branch official may direct the activities of the Board. Following the successful model of the National Transportation Safety Board and the Department of Transportation, Congress directed that the CSB's investigative function be completely independent of the rulemaking, inspection, and enforcement authorities of the Environmental Protection Agency and Occupational Safety and Health Administration. Congress recognized that Board investigations would identify chemical hazards that were not addressed by those agencies.[3] Also similarly to the NTSB, the CSB performs "investigations [that] identify the root causes of chemical incidents and share these findings broadly across industries to prevent future incidents."[4]


Following criticism from lawmakers and allegations of mismanagement, the former chairman of the CSB, Rafael Moure-Eraso, resigned in March 2015.[5][6][7] He was replaced by Vanessa Allen Sutherland in August 2015.[8] Sutherland resigned with two years left in her five-year term after the Trump administration proposed shutting down the CSB as part of the 2019 United States federal budget.[9]

Notable investigations[edit]

The USCSB has investigated many of the most devastating industrial accidents in the U.S. since its inception. It is known for its highly detailed and technically oriented post mortem analyses of individual incidents, as well as its transparent public relations practices. The latter include at length reconstructions of an incident, alongside root cause analysis and subsequent recommendations the Board has made; unusually for a governmental agency, they are often attended by a video form safety report, with careful narration and high quality computer graphics. Their videos are animated by Abbott Animation and are narrated by Sheldon Smith.[10][11] The agency publishes its videos on a public YouTube channel, which as of May 2022 has some 221 thousand subscribers.

In the mid to late 2000s, many of the USCSB's videos have centered on explosive dust hazards, and OSHA's response to USCSB's recommendations on the issue. Of the 8 investigations concerning explosions and fires caused by combustible dust conducted by the USCSB, 5 of them had their final report released from 2004 to 2009.[12]

Below is a list of the USCSB's notable investigations:

See also[edit]


  1. ^ "Media Resources". U.S. Chemical Safety Board. Archived from the original on Jul 11, 2017.
  2. ^ U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Website - Mission
  3. ^ U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board Website - History
  4. ^ U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (n.d.). "Agency Roles and Responsibilities" (PDF). U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. p. 1. Retrieved 3 March 2022. The CSB is a unique agency, modeled on the U.S. National Transportation Safety Board. The CSB investigations identify the root causes of chemical incidents and share these findings broadly across industries to prevent future incidents.
  5. ^ "Oversight Committee Members Call on Chemical Safety Board Chairman to Resign". United States House Committee on Oversight and Government Reform. Mar 4, 2015. Archived from the original on Aug 19, 2017.
  6. ^ Trager, Rebecca (Mar 10, 2015). "US chemical safety board in turmoil". Chemistry World.
  7. ^ Gunther, Matthew (Mar 31, 2015). "US Chemical Safety Board chairman resigns". Chemistry World.
  8. ^ "PN278 - Nomination of Vanessa Lorraine Allen Sutherland for Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board, 114th Congress (2015-2016)". www.congress.gov. 2015-08-05. Retrieved 2020-03-21.
  9. ^ "Chemical Safety Board Chair Vanessa Sutherland announces resignation". Safety+Health. National Safety Council. May 23, 2018. Archived from the original on 2020-03-05. Retrieved 2020-03-06.
  10. ^ "Silent Killer: Hydrogen Sulfide Release in Odessa, Texas". USCSB. 29 July 2021. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  11. ^ "Updated BP Texas City Animation on the 15th Anniversary of the Explosion". USCSB. 23 March 2020. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  12. ^ "Completed Investigations". Chemical Safety Board. n.d. Retrieved 8 December 2021.
  13. ^ Chevron Refinery fire, August 6, 2012
  14. ^ West, TX, Fertilizer Fire and Explosion, April 17, 2013

External links[edit]