Testing at Sterigenics plant canceled

Sterigenics sign in article Sterigenics temporary restraining orderSterigenics (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

The following news release was issued this afternoon by Ross Cavitt, Cobb County’s communications director:

Air Pressure Test at Sterigenics Canceled
Proposed test was not part of county’s work on fire code and safety issues

Marietta, GA – February 19, 2020  |  A scheduled airflow/negative air pressure test at the Sterigenics facility on Olympic Industrial Drive will not happen Thursday as originally planned.  Officials with the state Environmental Protection Division reached out to county officials seeking a new authorization for the test after receiving conflicting information about whether further permitting or inspections were needed.  County Manager Rob Hosack indicated it would take some time to specifically address the concerns. 

The planned test did not involve the use of ethylene oxide and was not a prelude to the company resuming operations.  The test addressed issues with state environmental emissions regulations per a consent order.  Work between Sterigenics and an independent third-party engineering firm to address fire code and safety issues with Cobb County continues.  The third-party expert has not yet generated a report and there is no timetable for completion of the highly-technical report.  Both parties are still trading information as part of that investigation.  No sterilization is occurring at the facility.   

Cobb Chairman Mike Boyce expressed frustration with the situation and reiterated residents need to be notified farther in advance before any action at the plant takes place.

Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the area in District 2, released the following statement:
I found out late last night about the proposed testing by Sterigenics.  I immediately reached out to the Governor’s office to get EPD to stop this testing and force Sterigenics to comply with county rules and codes.  Although the testing involves a test of the negative pressure system of the facility and is not using any ethylene oxide, it is unacceptable for Sterigenics to proceed without approval or permits from the county and the state.

Through the efforts of the governor’s office and with coordination of Ga EPD the testing has been canceled pending Sterigenics obtaining the necessary permit and inspections of the negative pressure system.  I will continue to keep you informed of the situation as it progresses.

Background

The Sterigenics plant became a focus of community concern in Smyrna and surrounding areas after an article jointly published by Georgia Health News and WebMD reported that three census tracts, two in the Smyrna area and one in Covington, had unacceptable levels of cancer risk by EPA standards, due to elevated amounts of ethylene oxide in the air.

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