Bush to Nominate Bresland for CSB

Days after Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) Chairwoman Carolyn Merritt announced that she is stepping down from her post, the White House announced that President George W. Bush plans to nominate John Bresland to be her successor.

Bresland on Aug. 5 will complete a 5-year term as a CSB board member. Before joining CSB, he was president of Environmental and Safety Risk Assessment LLC, a chemical process safety consulting company based in Morristown, N.J. In addition, he was a staff consultant to the Center for Chemical Process Safety of the American Institute of Chemical Engineers, working as a project manager on two committees writing books on dust explosions and the management of reactive chemical hazards.

While testifying at a July 10 Senate committee hearing titled “Lessons Learned from Important Chemical Safety Board Investigations,” Merritt announced that she won't be seeking another 5-year term with CSB. At the hearing, Merritt asked Congress to expand the agency's staffing, saying it is unable to investigate 15 to 20 “significant” incidents a year. For more, read (“Bill Would Boost CSB Budget, Authority.”)

Bush Also to Nominate Board Member

The White House also said that the president plans to nominate C. Russell H. Shearer as a board member. Shearer currently is the deputy chief for enforcement and technical matters in the Office of Health, Safety and Security at the Department of Energy.

“We are happy that the president is advancing the process of succession at the board by planning to nominate members to fill the vacant positions,” said Merritt, who plans to retire and return to private life in Chicago in August.

“In the event the Senate has not acted on the nominations prior to Aug. 2, the board has appropriate procedures in place to continue its operations under an interim executive.”

Both new nominations will be subject to Senate confirmation. In addition to Merritt and Bresland, CSB has three sitting members: Gary Visscher, William Wark and William Wright, who were appointed to 5-year terms in 2004, 2006 and 2006, respectively.

In the event of a vacancy in the chair, the remaining members may vote to designate one member as interim executive for one or more 180-day terms. Since 2000, CSB has had between three and five sitting members at any given time.

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