US chem safety board requests funds to create Houston office

01 February 2010 22:35  [Source: ICIS news]

HOUSTON (ICIS news)--The US Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is seeking a 20.5% budget hike for the 2011 fiscal year to support the development of a regional office in or near Houston, the board said on Monday.

The Washington, DC-based group’s budget justification statement for the fiscal year beginning 1 October 2010 includes a request for a $12.7m (€9.1m) budget, up from $10.6m in fiscal 2010 and $1.9m above the number currently alloted by the Obama administration.

The Houston office would be the group’s second regional office, following an expansion to Denver in 2009. It would include five investigators and seek to enhance investigations near “the heart of America’s oil and chemical industry”, the group said in its request.

The CSB is also requesting an additional three-person investigative team to focus on shorter-term investigations.

“The board believes that these two steps are essential to help close the gap between the number of serious chemical accidents that occur each year and the number the CSB is actually able to investigate,” the board said in its request.

In December, the board was unable to investigate an explosion at an American Acryl plant in Seabrook, Texas, because allocated 2009 budget money had mostly run dry.

Last month, the CSB said its 17 open investigations was the largest number in its 11-year history.

In the budget request, the CSB is also seeking additional funds for items such as a director of operations, salary and benefits increases for five board members, and information technology (IT) equipment.

People within the oil industry have told us that we give the best value for taxpayer dollar of any agency in the government,” CSB chairman John Bresland said. “$10m is what we spend, but in terms of accident prevention, that money is returned many times over.”

($1 = €0.72)

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By: Ben DuBose
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