June 23, 2022

Chemical Safety Board Chair Resigns, Potential Third Member Nominated

U.S. Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board (CSB) Chairperson Katherine Lemos has resigned her position effective July 22, according to reporting by Bloomberg and The Hill. Lemos, who previously worked for Northrop Grumman as a director of programs for the corporation’s aerospace sector, was confirmed by the U.S. Senate in March 2020, and she was sworn in the following month. At the time, Lemos’ confirmation brought CSB’s membership up to two people: Lemos and Kristen Kulinowski. Kulinowski served as a board member of CSB from August 2015 to May 2020, leading the agency as interim executive and administrative authority for about two years during that time.

CSB is supposed to comprise five members who are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate. Board members serve fixed terms of five years. Lemos served as the sole member of CSB from May 2020 until February 2022, when two new members—Sylvia E. Johnson and Steve Owens—began their posts following Senate confirmation. Johnson is experienced in investigating industrial manufacturing accidents and hazard recognition and mitigation, according to CSB’s website. Owens previously practiced environmental, safety, and health law in Phoenix, Arizona, with a focus on chemical safety regulations and requirements.

Earlier this month, President Joe Biden nominated a third potential CSB member: Catherine J.K. Sandoval. According to a release published by the White House on June 8, Sandoval is a law professor at Santa Clara University in California, where her focus is on energy, communications, antitrust, and contract law. “A regulatory and legal expert for more than thirty years and a safety leader for more than two decades, [Sandoval’s] interdisciplinary work advances infrastructure safety, reliability, access, and equity,” the White House states.

Sandoval’s nomination has been referred to the Senate Committee on Environment and Public Works.