CARIBOU – A Caribou native and University of Maine at Fort Kent graduate advanced to the national stage late last week when he became the newest member of the federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board.
William B. Wark was sworn in to the position on Friday by U.S. Sen. Susan Collins during a ceremony on Capitol Hill, according to the senator’s office.
The board is an independent federal agency charged with investigating industrial chemical accidents. Its board members are appointed by the president and confirmed by the Senate.
Wark and fellow new board member William E. Wright were confirmed by the full Senate on Sept. 15.
After graduating from UMFK, Wark went on to earn a master’s degree in public administration from George Washington University in Washington, D.C.
A Navy veteran of counterintelligence duty in Vietnam, he is also a graduate of the Industrial College of the Armed Forces.
He formerly served as deputy director for the Technological Hazards Division at the Federal Emergency Management Agency from 1999 to 2001.
Wark said in a written statement that he was “honored and grateful” for the appointment.
“I look forward to promoting the safety of workers in chemical facilities and their surrounding communities as a member of the board,” he added.
Collins expressed equal enthusiasm about having Wark on the committee.
“Maine has a long tradition of providing dedicated and effective public servants to serve the country,” she noted. “I am delighted to see that tradition continue with William Wark chosen to serve on the federal Chemical Safety and Hazard Investigation Board. The nation is fortunate to have an official of his caliber joining the distinguished membership of the … board.”
Board Chairman Carolyn W. Merritt, said that both Wark and Wright had “distinction and experience” and would “make a much-welcomed contribution to the agency’s investigative and outreach efforts throughout the country.”
The board investigates all aspects of chemical accidents, including physical causes such as equipment failure as well as inadequacies in safety management systems.
The board does not issue citations or fines but does make safety recommendations to plants, industry organizations, labor groups and regulatory agencies.