It’s been just over three months since the industry’s
largest-ever product recall, and enforcement issues are
Operators across the country are being asked to identify and
replace what amounts to hundreds of thousands of drain covers
deemed potentially hazardous by the U.S. Consumer Product Safety
Commission in late May.
But according to officials, many local and state health departments
have little authority to carry out the CPSC’s recommendation
that facilities be closed until recalled covers are
The CPSC’s 100 or so field staffers, as well as local and
state health agencies they’ve contracted, are actively
checking public vessels for compliance with the Virginia Graeme
Baker Pool and Spa Safety Act, and now replacement covers, said
public affairs specialist Kathleen Reilly. But these aren’t
dedicated inspectors, and they’re also charged with verifying
the safety of a number of other consumer products.
Ultimately, much like VGB enforcement, it comes down to the fact
that there’s no mandate to require compliance with the recall
if states don’t have identical laws.
In Nevada, Valerie Hirata said, “We can let a facility know
it had a recalled cover, but we can’t close that body of
water.” That’s because the state has regulations
calling for anti-vortex covers on public pool and spa drains, but
has not adopted additional rules mirroring the federal law.
“If I were to force someone to comply with the recall, for
instance, they could simply pull me into court and point to the law
I’m supposed to enforce,” added Hirata, who is
environmental health specialist at the Southern Nevada Health
District in Las Vegas. “So, really, the onus is on the owner
to close the pool if it doesn’t meet
It’s much the same in Ohio, where state Department of Health
officials have posted information on the recall online, and
notified local health departments. It is now up to those offices to
determine how to proceed, said Jennifer House, public information
officer at the ODH.
“They would be considered critical violations,” House
added of pools or spas that contain the recalled covers. “But
we haven’t issued further guidance or a length of time in
which to address the situation.”
Meanwhile, health officials in Riverside County (Calif.) know that
many of the 7,400 public pools and spas they oversee were fitted
with the recalled covers. But like its counterparts in Nevada and
Ohio, the Riverside County Department of Environmental Health also
has focused on notification rather than enforcement. The agency
posted a bulletin on its Web site and issued additional
notification to all permitted swimming pool and spa operators
through the mail and on inspection reports.
“Of course, we are not allowing the recalled covers on new
installations now,” said Keith Jones, the department’s