CPSC Changes VGB Rule

CPSC Changes VGB Rule

CPSC Changes VGB Rule

by Scott Webb Aquamagazine.com

The Consumer Product Safety Commission has voted to reverse its earlier ruling on unblockable drains under VGB. Before the vote yesterday, an approved 18-by-23-inch drain cover could legally be used over a smaller sump in a single drain commercial pool. Now, the sump must also be at least 18 by 23 inches, or the pool will have to install other anti-entrapment measures, such as split drains, vent pipes, SVRS systems, etc.

Pools that met the old VGB criteria, using an approved drain cover over a smaller sump, will have to invest in equipment or renovations to meet the requirements of the new ruling.

At one point in discussions, a new compliance date of May 28, 2012, was proposed, but in its final statement, the CPSC announced a 60-day public-comment period to provide input for the final deadline.

The initial ruling in April 2010 resulted from a 3-2 vote where two Republicans on the committee, Anne Northup and Nancy Nord, were joined by one of three Democrats, Robert Adler in the majority. Since that time, Adler was lobbied heavily and eventually changed his mind, joining the other two Democrats on the committee, Inez Tenenbaum and Thomas Moore, in moving to change the CPSC’s ruling.

The lobbying effort to change Adler’s position was detailed in letters made available by the CPSC at http://www.cpsc.gov/library/foia/foia11/pubcom/unblockdrain.pdf

The two Republican voting members fought the change throughout the process, and expressed dismay at the result.

“Things went according to the majority’s predetermined plan this morning when the CPSC voted to reinterpret the definition of ‘unblockable drain,’ reversing an earlier interpretation and costing states and municipalities significant sums to either reengineer perfectly safe swimming pools or lock the gates,” said commissioner Nancy Nord in a blog post.

“Common sense and good administrative practice say that when you reverse course, you should find out who will be impacted by your action before you do it. This is even truer when there is no impetus for the reversal and no rallying cry or public discussion prompting you to act.”

“In this case, many states and local jurisdictions have relied on the guidance we gave them 18 months ago and therefore we should have determined how a rule reversal would impact them. Since the agency refused to ask for that information, I did, and I have been getting a number of troubling letters that detail the adverse safety impacts and the financial and regulatory burdens we will be placing on those jurisdictions by this action. These letters make clear that, had we bothered to ask the public for their thoughts in the first place, they would have had plenty to tell us.”