Inez Tenenbaum, chairman of the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, will not seek renomination for her post.
Tenenbaum’s term expires in October 2013, but she plans to remain until her successor is confirmed. She was appointed by President Barack Obama in 2009.
CPSC credited Tenenbaum with leading it “through one of the most significant transformations in the agency’s history. ...” This is due in large part to the need to implement the Consumer Product Safety Improvement Act, which tightened up safety requirements on children’s products.
In the aquatics and pool industries, however, Tenenbaum will be remembered for leading the agency as it oversaw implementation of the first federal pool and spa safety law. Under the Virginia Graeme Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, all commercial pools and spas were to have been equipped with anti-entrapment drain covers, as well as dual main drains and other anti-entrapment measures by the end of 2008.
The law also called for programs promoting water safety, and grants for states that enacted their own safety legislation.
For the owners, operators and service companies of commercial pools, the most frustrating chapter in VGB’s implementation came Memorial Day weekend in 2011, when it was announced that most of the replacement drain covers had been recalled by CPSC and would need replacement. Tenenbaum staunchly supported the recall.
As one of three Democrats on CPSC’s voting panel of five, Tenenbaum often stood in opposition of opinions held by the majority of the pool and spa industry. In addition to supporting the recall, she also voted for the more stringent requirements for unblockable drains, stating that the sump and cover must meet certain dimensional parameters.
At first, she was outvoted so that the cover alone could qualify a drain as unblockable. But her wishes on the matter eventually were realized when one of her colleagues changed his mind and called for a revote, thereby forcing some facilities to undergo another retrofit.
This seems to be a time of high turnover for the agency. Of the five voting commissioner positions, two currently are unfilled.
Republican Anne Northup, who often championed the small businessperson’s needs and perspective, left last fall after extending her term by a year. Democrat Thomas Moore retired in October 2011.
And, in addition to Tenenbaum’s departure, Republican Nancy Nord will leave in October, after extending her term by a year to avoid leaving another seat vacant.
With Northup, Nord often took the same position as the pool industry on various matters involving VGB.