Opening Statement for Senator Bob Smith
Full Committee Hearing to receive testimony on Nominations
Mr. Chairman, I am pleased that we have been given this opportunity to hear testimony from both of these nominees. John Bresland and Carolyn Merritt have been nominated by the President to serve on a Board that has in the past and will continue to play a great role in the protection of our nation from major chemical accidents at fixed facilities.
The Chemical Safety and Chemical Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) was formed under provisions of the Clean Air Act and serves to investigate and determine ways to prevent accidents involving hazardous chemicals. Since January of 2000, this Board has existed without a Chairman and CEO - that is not an acceptable manner in which to run a Board that has such a weighty responsibility.
Why is it important for this particular Board to be fully staffed? As early as 1993 the EPA reported the existence of more than 278,000 chemical facilities that generate, transport, treat, store and/or dispose of hazardous waste. In the same year it was determined that nearly four billion tons of hazardous waste are shipped each year. That was in 1993 - it is staggering to think about what those numbers are now. The CSB has the responsibility of determining the consequences of accidents involving hazardous chemicals at fixed facilities and are, in conjunction with the NTSB, involved in investigating accidents involving hazardous chemicals in transit. While the CSB does not have enforcement or regulatory powers, they are responsible for helping those who are in a position to make decisions understand why accidents happened and what can be done to prevent them in the future.
In order to be effective, the CSB must be composed of individuals who have an intimate understanding of a number of technical areas including, but not limited to, toxicology, accident reconstruction, general chemical safety issues and pollution regulations. Perhaps most important, they must understand the human factors and human consequences of hazardous chemical accidents. People die, are seriously injured and lose jobs when these accidents occur and I believe that it is our duty to make certain that we do everything in our power to help prevent these accidents. With a qualified and committed Board the CSB has the potential to do exactly that.
John Bresland has an extensive background in a variety of chemical safety and conditional fields. He has studied both in the United States and abroad and has shown a consistent desire to remain up to date on all aspects of his field. During his career with Honeywell International he has gained valuable experience in environmental compliance, engineering, manufacturing and safety compliance. Most recently he has served as President of a consulting firm that specializes in chemical facility safety and environmental performance improvement. I believe that he has the kind of background and education that will make him an outstanding and highly valuable member of the CSB.
Carolyn Merritt is a skilled manager and brings with her a 25-year background with strong ties to chemical safety. In both technical and managerial positions, she has worked in a wide variety of positions aimed at creating safe, environmentally responsible and involved facilities. Most recently, Carolyn Merritt has served as Senior Vice President for Environment, Health and Safety for IMC Global, Inc. She has been responsible for establishing plans that reduce risk and ensure that there is the highest level of accountability. Her management experience will be an invaluable asset as Chairman and CEO of the CSB.
I am certain that both John Bresland and Carolyn Merritt will carry out the duties presented to them when confirmed to the best of their abilities - they are very well qualified to serve on the CSB and I am pleased to have the opportunity to have them here before the Committee today.