The U.S. Chemical Safety Board is in charge of investigating the explosion at the West Fertilizer plant in Texas. The independent agency, which was also responsible for the investigation after the 2010 BP Gulf Oil Spill, has been faulted for its declining investigative processes.
According to the Center for Public Integrity, “The number of board accident reports, case studies and safety bulletins has fallen precipitously since 2006, an analysis by the Center for Public Integrity found. Thirteen board investigations — one more than five years old — are incomplete.”
The Chemical Safety Board was authorized by the Clean Air Act Amendments of 1990, and became operational in 1998. Charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents, the agency has handled investigations of the 2005 BP Texas City refinery explosion, which killed fifteen workers and injured 180, and the 2008 Imperial Sugar plant incident near Savannah, Georgia, which killed 14 and injured 36.
However, the board has failed to complete investigations or issue final reports on both the 2010 explosion at the Tesoro Corp. oil refinery in Anacortes, Washington, and the 2010 BP Gulf oil spill, as well as others. William Wark, a former employee of the Chemical Safety Board told the Center for Public Integrity that the agency is “grossly mismanaged.”
Alisha Mims is a writer and researcher for Ring of Fire.