The chairman of the federal Chemical Safety Board warned Tuesday that the agency would be unable to respond to a major disaster, thanks to a lingering government shutdown that has forced the furlough of more than 90 percent of its workers.
The board has suspended its investigation of April’s deadly blast at a West, Texas, fertilizer plant, along with probes of other chemical explosions around the country, Rafael Moure-Eraso said.
Worse, he said, the sidelined Board, which is operating without all but three of its 41 staff members, does not have the resources to initiate a new investigation should a chemical disaster hit.
“We have no ability to respond,” Moure-Eraso told reporters during a news conference on Capitol Hill. “And I think that is true of much of the government.”
The chemical board’s woes were among a litany of shutdown-caused federal service interruptions enumerated by a group of Democratic senators, who called upon Speaker John Boehner (R-Ohio) to call a vote on legislation to restart the government.