Industry representatives are trying to persuade the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission to reverse a recent decision involving the federal pool and spa safety law.
In September, CPSC narrowed the definition of an unblockable drain in the VGB Act. Previously, a drain was considered unblockable as long as the cover met certain measurements and flow requirements. The latest decision restricted the meaning further, stating that the sump also must meet dimensional criteria.
Because of the recent ruling, drains that have fallen out of the unblockable category (those with sumps measuring 18-by-23-inches or smaller) now are considered single blockable outlets, and must be split or receive backups. CPSC said these retrofits must occur by May 28, 2012, but allowed a comment period to receive input on the deadline.
In response, the Association of Pool & Spa Professionals issued an alert asking its members to write letters to CPSC, as well as to the congressional subcommittee overseeing the agency and individual legislators who sponsored VGB as a bill.
Additionally, drain cover producer Worldwide Sports hired a lobbyist to submit a letter on its behalf as well as other interested parties. The letter went to Gib Mullan, chief counsel of the House Subcommittee overseeing the CPSC.
“Hopefully, they’ll get enough safety-based information to either do an oversight hearing or send another letter to the commission,” said Walt Sanders, vice president of law and government affairs at Alexandria, Va.-based Van Fleet Associates, who wrote the letter.
The letter suggested the CPSC ruling was vulnerable to having an injunction placed against it because no public comment period was allowed. It went on to cite a case where a similar CPSC decision was reversed in court.
Other manufacturers have written in as well, and some have encouraged customers to comment. The American Hotel & Lodging Association also plans to rebut CPSC’s decision.
Ultimately, these industry representatives hope to convince CPSC to revert to the original wording. But internal politics make that unlikely. CPSC is structured so that three of the five decision-makers come from the same political party as the U.S. president, and at the Sept. 28 hearing, all three Democrats voted together on the unblockable drain issue. Also, one of those Democrats has retired, and many worry that CPSC will be unable to effect any change with two votes on either side of an issue.
It isn’t known when the retiring commissioner will be replaced, but CPSC has in the past operated for lengthy periods without five commissioners in place.