Sustained Outrage

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When we last left the U.S. Chemical Safety Board, board Chairwoman Vanessa Allen Sutherland was saying that the agency’s investigative staff had review public and scientific criticism of its Freedom Industries report and didn’t see any need for an addendum — let alone a wholesale write of the sort that some experts are advocating — and Sutherland was saying it was likely the board would accept that recommendation.

[Shortly after our story on those comments was published, Sutherland was apparently trying to backpedal, with a board spokeswoman seeking a correction — saying that, of course, nothing was final until the board took a formal vote.]

It turns out, though, that the board may have to spend a little more time reviewing all of the criticisms of its Freedom report after all … On Tuesday, Kanawha Valley resident Philip Price, a former Carbide chemist, filed a formal petition with the CSB seeking correction of its Freedom Industries report.

I’ve posted a copy of Price’s petition here, and this is his request:

A major revision or addendum must be issued for this seriously flawed report. It contains misstatements of fact, unsubstantiated allegations, and critical omissions. It would not pass standard peer review, nor be acceptable for publication in a refereed scientific journal (I review for several international journals). This incident record will have no historical use, if viewed as flawed.

Price explains:

After two and a half years of work, the CSB Report fails to address the most fundamental questions of a chemical spill investigation:

     • What chemicals were spilled?
     • How much of each chemical was spilled?
     • When did the spill happen?
     • How did the spill happen?
     • Who received what relative exposures? (which residents’ neighborhoods, census tracts)

I asked CSB spokeswoman Hillary Cohen about the petition, and she said via email:

The CSB is in receipt of the document and we are evaluating the petition per our our  Data Quality Guidelines.

Interestingly enough, those Data Quality Guidelines spell out a formal process that requires the CSB to respond. For example:

Requests raising substantive issues will be forwarded for review to the Office within the CSB responsible for the subject area of the petition, typically to the Office of Investigations and Safety Programs.

Based on consultations with the reviewing office, the Chief Operating Officer (COO) normally will respond to the request within 60 days of receipt, excluding weekends and holidays. If the request requires more than 60 days to resolve, the COO will inform the requestor that more time is required and indicate the reason why and an estimated decision date. Delay in the CSB’s response may be required if the petitioner modifies the original request, if the CSB needs to clarify the request, or if the CSB needs to consult with other agencies that may have an interest in the matter, although the CSB shall be solely responsible for determining how to respond to the request. If a request is deemed frivolous, made in bad faith or without justification, no response will be made.

Stay tuned to see what the CSB does with this petition …