(Bloomberg) — The head of a federal safety agency that investigates major industrial accidents has submitted her resignation, according to a letter seen by Bloomberg.
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Katherine Lemos’s departure would leave the five-person US Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board with two members, though the White House said this week it would nominate Catherine J.K. Sandoval, a professor at California’s Santa Clara University, to the board.
“Recent priorities of the Board have eroded my confidence in our ability to focus” on the independent agency’s mission, Lemos, a nominee of former President Donald Trump, said in a resignation letter submitted to the White House on Friday.
Lemos, who was confirmed for a five-year term in 2020, wrote her resignation is effective July 22. Bruce Walker, a senior adviser to Lemos, also submitted his resignation.
The White House didn’t immediately respond to a request for comment Saturday. A CSB spokeswoman confirmed Lemos’ resignation.
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The Chemical Safety Board became operational in 1998 and has investigated incidents ranging from BP Plc’s 2010 Deepwater Horizon drilling rig blowout to a chemical spill that tainted drinking water for hundreds of thousands of West Virginia residents in 2014.
Current investigations include a June 2019 explosion and massive fire at Philadelphia Energy Solutions Inc. oil refinery. But the agency has battled years of staff defections and allegations of dysfunction.
Trump proposed eliminating the tiny agency with roughly 30 employees in each of his annual budgets, arguing that the board’s focus on regulation had “frustrated both regulators and industry.”
Still, Trump nominated Lemos, who has worked in safety-focused roles at the National Transportation Safety Board and the Federal Aviation Administration. She easily won confirmation by the Senate.
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