What a beautiful afternoon. The weather is fitting for the occasion.
Congressman Van Hollen, Mayor Marcuccio, Diana [Hamilton from the Office of Senator Richard Durbin], current and past Commissioners and Chairman, and special guests, thank you for all for joining us to celebrate this great moment in CPSC’s history.
This is a moment that is many years in the making. The brand new testing facility behind me is an investment in the safety of American families.
We would not be here today celebrating this grand opening without Senator Richard Durbin’s leadership on the Senate Appropriations Committee and the support of the House Appropriations Committee, the Office of Management and Budget, the General Services Administration, and many others.
On behalf of CPSC, I want to thank all of you for helping us reach another milestone in our effort to modernize our agency.
This state of the art facility—which everyone here today will get to tour—brings the 75 outstanding engineers and scientific staff who work for CPSC under one roof.
Having a larger facility, with more high tech equipment, will help CPSC be more efficient and productive in testing products—products that could pose a danger to consumers.
Our new product testing and evaluation center has almost two and a half times more lab space than our old facility in Gaithersburg—a facility that had buildings that leaked when it rained.
There is thirty-two thousand square feet of lab space in this building; whereas, the Gaithersburg lab had only thirteen thousand square feet of testing space. This is a two hundred and fifty percent increase that our talented staff will put to good use in carrying out their product safety work.
This center has many new features, including the ability to:
conduct mechanical and roll over tests on all terrain vehicles,
conduct open flame tests on mattresses,
conduct tests of combustion products at more extreme temperatures, and
conduct carbon monoxide alarm testing in a new chamber.
The lab also features a safety system to monitor the air for toxic gases that could be harmful to employees, additional space for advanced chemistry testing of lead and other toxic metals, and additional space for our electron microscope.
Inside of the testing center you will find staff conducting fire, chemical, mechanical, electrical, and aquatics testing. They are analyzing children’s clothing, metal jewelry, toys, pool products, furniture, home appliances, and so much more.
Every test they run, every result they record, every hazard they detect, is about one thing in the end: keeping children and consumers safe.
They faster we pick up a product in the field and send it here for testing, the faster we can prevent a child from being hurt in a dangerous crib or a consumer being hurt by a defective toaster.
We have a renewed commitment at CPSC to being proactive rather than reactive, and a renewed focus on injury prevention rather than injury reduction.
This transformation can be seen here at our Lab and at the nation’s largest ports, where CPSC staff are using new technologies to detect and detain violative imports.
Samples are collected from shipments that have come into U.S. ports and are then sent here for testing.
For example, inside of this building there is a baby walker that was imported from China, stopped by CPSC port inspectors, and tested by CPSC lab technicians.
The baby walker failed the test that we run as part of our new mandatory safety standard—and it failed in ways that are frightening. A baby could easily have fallen down a flight of steps in these walkers.
But, here’s the good news: no parent purchased the walker and no baby was put in the walker, because we caught it and tested it and seized it at import.
This is the essence of CPSC’s new vision and this is why the new testing facility is so important to consumer safety.
We are striving to be the global leader in product safety and this modern lab moves us one step closer.
I believe it also important to point out that our ability to sign a lease on this great facility here in Rockville reflects CPSC’s strong ties to Montgomery County.
Between our headquarters in Bethesda and this center, eighty percent of the staff at CPSC work in Montgomery County, and fifty percent of those staff live in this county.
Mayor Marcuccio and Congressman Van Hollen, we are proud to be your neighbors in this community and we hope to contribute to the growth of the economy.
Although many employees across CPSC contributed to making this world class facility a reality, I would like to close my remarks by recognizing two members of the team who were truly invaluable: they are Andy Stadnik, the director of laboratory sciences, and Douglas Brown, our program manager. They dedicated hundreds of hours to this project and we are so proud of the results of their efforts.
Thank you Andy and Douglas.
And thank you all for coming out today. CPSC stands for safety, and this state of the art facility is a testament to our renewed commitment to keeping families safe.