Paul Hill Resigns from Chemical Safety Board

The infighting that has plagued the U.S. Chemical Safety and\r\nHazard Investigation Board may be ending, as the White House\r\nhas confirmed that Dr. Paul Hill Jr., has resigned from the board.

The infighting that has plagued the U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) may be ending, as the White House has confirmed that Dr. Paul Hill Jr., has resigned from the board.

Hill served as the first chair of CSB until January of this year, when he resigned that post in the midst of a bitter management dispute with his three fellow board members. Because Hill retained his position on the board, that move did not end the infighting that board member Irv Rosenthal admitted has hurt CSB''s ability to complete investigation reports.

A government report released this summer revealed that Hill''s three colleagues had asked President Clinton to remove Hill from the board, alleging "malfeasance, inefficiency, and neglect of duty."

The nadir of CSB''s fortunes may have been an April 12 Senate hearing during which Sen. Christopher "Kit" Bond, R-Mo., warned the panel that unless they put their differences behind them and completed more investigations, he would advocate disbanding the agency. Bond chairs the Senate appropriations subcommittee that funds CSB.

Since that time CSB has completed two more investigation reports of chemical accidents, the fourth and fifth such reports issued since it began operations in 1998.

The safety board also sent Congress an ambitious set of goals for itself in a strategic plan for 2001-05. To chart its future course, CSB and its staff engaged in an intensive planning process and sought feedback from key stakeholder groups.

Based on these discussions, the CSB merged the agency''s key activities under a single mission goal: to promote the prevention of chemical accidents.

Commenting on Hill''s departure, Board spokesperson Dr. Andrea Taylor said, "The Board appreciates Dr. Hill''s efforts that contributed to the Board''s first appropriation of funds in 1997. Dr. Hill played an important early role in developing the Board''s infrastructure, and we wish him well in his future endeavors."

by James Nash

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