Public Safety Sectors & Partnerships
The Federal Chemical Safety Board is partnered with the Emergency Services Sector (ESS). The Chemical Safety Board (CSB) is responsible for investigating chemical accidents and their causes in order to determine best practices for avoiding and reducing the risk of these hazards. The investigator’s function to
…sift through evidence, consult with Board members, and review regulations and industry practices before drafting key findings, root causes and recommendations. During the process, investigators may confer with plant managers, workers, labor groups, and other government authorities. The investigative process generally takes six to twelve months to complete, and a draft report is then submitted to the Board for consideration. Reports may be adopted through a written vote of the Board or in a formal public meeting near the incident site or in Washington, DC.
The CSB is a separate entity that is not law enforcement. Members of the board are appointed by the President and confirmed by the Senate. The CSB reports to Congress and the President as well as other agencies in order to make recommendations for policies and practices with regard to the handling of chemicals. An example of this operation can be seen in the West Texas explosion of 2013 in which a fertilizer plant caught fire and ultimately exploded killing 10 firefighters and 5 civilians (Pell, McNeill, & Roberts, 2013). The CSB was called in to determine the causes of the accident which was ultimately rules as a failure for emergency planning and preparedness.
The CSB determined that there was a lack of knowledge concerning the chemicals in the fire which resulted in first responders losing their lives by trying to combat the blaze:
…fighting the fire was the wrong call. About 20 minutes after the responders got there, an explosion sent a massive fireball into the sky, killing most of the firefighters on the scene. The state fire marshal says ammonium nitrate was the source of the explosion. The exact cause of the fire and explosion remains undetermined (Pell, McNeill, & Roberts, 2013).
As a result of this investigation, the CSB made recommendations for enhanced chemical reporting and more universal databases for first responders to access. These recommendations lead to a revamping of the hazardous chemical database and allowed first responders to access vital information concerning chemicals on a 24-hour basis. This also instituted tighter policies concerning reporting of the storage of dangerous chemicals and their quantities (Pell, McNeill, & Roberts, 2013).
The CSB serves a larger purpose as it also provides planning for maintaining the safety of chemicals and their security. This is an area of critical infrastructure services known as Emergency Services Sector which is designed to ensure the safety of lives property and the environment through a variety of capabilities including hazardous materials (DHS, 2017). The CSB is part of this partnership to protect critical infrastructure and provides information necessary for the handling, security, disposal, and storage of hazardous chemicals (CSB, 2017).
This partnership is an important asset to the critical infrastructure field because the CBS provides information that is necessary to reduce the risk of critical system breakdowns. Chemicals are large and necessary part of US society’s ability to function properly and effectively. Chemical accidents present major issues but more so their security is vital because there are many chemicals which can be used by terrorists to attack the civilian population. The Oklahoma City Bombing highlights this issue and after that incident, acquiring fertilizer become more regulated in the US (CSB, 2017). Within this framework the CSB partners with law enforcement, private organizations, and with policy makers to provide the most effective information for handling situations involving chemicals. The CSB provides a database and investigators to assist with the protection of critical infrastructure and can direct first responders with the most effective means of dealing with dangerous chemicals.
CSB. (2017). About the CSB. (U. C. Board, Producer) Retrieved from US Chemical Safety Board: http://www.csb.gov/about-the-csb/
DHS. (2017). Emergency Services Sector. Retrieved from Homeland Security: https://www.dhs.gov/emergency-services-sector
Pell, M., McNeill, R., & Roberts, J. (2013, May 22). Unprepared: Texas blast shows failure of emergency planning law, analysis shows. Retrieved from NBS News, Reuters: http://investigations.nbcnews.com/_news/2013/05/22/18429405-unprepared-texas-blast-shows-failure-of-emergency-planning-law-analysis-shows