Statement of Carolyn W. Merritt
Nominated by President Bush to be Chairman and CEO of the
U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board
Committee on Environment and Public Works
United States Senate
July 18, 2002
Mr. Chairman and Members of the Committee, thank you for the opportunity to appear before you.
My name is Carolyn Merritt. I am honored and humbled by this nomination from the President to the position of Chairman and CEO of the U. S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. In a career that has spanned 30 years, I have had the satisfaction of working as a high school teacher, as a general foreman, environmental manager and corporate officer. I have been proud of my accomplishments. I believe, however, that it would be my utmost privilege to work in government service.
I am excited by the opportunity to contribute my experience and knowledge to the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. I believe this agency can effectively fulfill its mandate to determine root causes of chemical accidents and to recommend and advocate safety improvements in industry. Chemical accidents cost human lives, contaminate the environment, and destroy production facilities and jobs. The Chemical Safety Board can, and does, help prevent these losses.
In every position I have held, I have worked to be an effective leader, communicator and problem solver. My professional experience has included work in facilities that manufactured chemicals, fertilizers, pharmaceuticals, munitions, minerals, and pulp and paper. I have worked in research, quality control, process engineering, plant operations, wastewater treatment, environmental compliance, worker safety and executive management. From 1994 to 2001, I served as Senior Vice President for Environment, Health, and Safety for IMC Global, a billion dollar agricultural chemicals company with as many as 12,000 employees. From the early 1980s to 1994, I held environmental and safety management positions with Champion International Corporation and the Tennessee Chemical Company.
My most rewarding experiences have been working with communities, industrial managers and workers to reduce the risk that a facility will suffer a disastrous chemical incident and prepare for emergency response in the event such an event were to occur. Continuing this work as part of the Chemical Safety Board has the potential to further improve the safety and security of people, property and vital productivity.
OSHA’s 1993 Process Safety Management standard was an important milestone in improving plant safety and protecting workers, residents, and the environment. I have worked in two different industries guiding management and operating staff as they implemented these rules. I believe these regulations have saved lives and prevented substantial environmental damage.
The chemical industry, in which I have spent most of my career, is an important contributor to our economy and quality of life. At the same time, I have seen that government has a significant role to play in verifying the safety and compliance of chemical manufacturing facilities and facilities that use hazardous chemicals in their processes. The Chemical Safety Board should work in partnership with enforcement agencies, the regulated community and Congress to determine how best to use lessons learned from incident investigations to prevent their recurrence. Prevention has to be the ultimate reason for regulation. The CSB can be an important vehicle to achieve effective prevention.
The Board has gone for more than two years without a Chair, a full-time Chief Operating Officer, or a full complement of Board Members. If Mr. John Bresland, President Bush’s nominee for the other open Board position, and I are fortunate enough to be confirmed, the Board will, for the first time, have all five seats filled. The combination of academic, industrial, and agency experience represented on the Board will create a highly effective management group. I believe the CSB is poised to produce and can achieve the results Congress intended when it was created by the 1990 Clean Air Act Amendments.
I believe my executive and organizational skills can move this agency forward; improve morale and effectiveness; and achieve the support and respect of this Committee, sister government agencies, and industry. I hope you will grant me the opportunity to lead this organization to a more effective future.
Thank you for the opportunity to present this testimony. I would welcome questions from the Committee.