Tenenbaum vows to pursue defective drywall

The Miami HeraldSeptember 10, 2009 

WASHINGTON — New Consumer Product Safety Commission chairman Inez Tenenbaum pledged to lawmakers Thursday that her agency will "vigorously pursue its investigation" into the imported drywall that is plaguing homeowners in a number of states, including Florida.

"We are fully committed to finding answers and solutions for all the homeowners who are impacted by this serious situation," Tenenbaum said in remarks prepared for delivery, adding that the agency is "pouring a record amount of money and manpower toward the goal of helping affected families."

As of Sept. 4, she said the commission had received 1,192 incident reports about drywall from 24 states, including the District of Colombia. She said the majority of the reports were from Florida, Louisiana and Virginia.

She noted in her prepared remarks that the commission has formed an internal drywall task force to work with other federal and state agencies. She said in the last month the drywall task force has made an investigative trip to China to meet with government and industry officials and collected information and samples relevant to the Chinese drywall manufacturing process.

She said the task force later this fall plans to release initial indoor air sampling test results and a preliminary health assessment.

Rep. Steve Scalise, R-La., said he was anxious to hear Tenenbaum's "answers and solutions." He said after Florida, Louisiana has had the most number of complaints and he said his office has fielded complaints from homeowners who were displaced by Hurricane Katrina and Wilma, only to find themselves in homes with shoddy drywall.

"It's clear drywall has wreaked havoc in homes," he said.

Rep. Kathy Castor, D-Tampa, called the situation an "important Florida issue.

"It's making many families in Florida sick," she said. "Families should not have to worry that building materials in their homes emit toxic fumes."

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