Sterigenics objects to temporary nature of reopening go-ahead

Sterigenics sign in article about lawsuit Sterigenics, BD BardSterigenics (photo by Larry Felton Johnson)

Sterigenics issued the following statement regarding Cobb County Chairman Mike Boyce’s emergency order allowing their Smyrna-area facility to reopen:

March 25, 2020

“Sterigenics will take immediate steps to resume sterilization of personal protective equipment (PPE) required to protect health care workers battling COVID-19.

However, the County’s Order stating that Sterigenics can operate for only 21 days and only for the purposeof sterilizing PPE falls woefully short of the measures needed to protect public health, as well as the FDA’s request for assistance.

The Order also excludes sterilization of vital medical products and devices, including ventilator tubing, IV sets, catheters and many other medical products that are essential to patient care.

Rather than engage with Sterigenics regarding an appropriate plan for the operation of its facility to protect the public, the County unilaterally issued an Order that omits necessary medical products at a critical time.

Sterigenics has invested significant resources to install voluntary upgrades to our emission control systems. Those enhancements have established our facility as one of the most advanced sterilization facilities in the world in terms of emission control, as demonstrated by our successful test on March 24, 2020.

In addition, we have fully complied with the fire and safety review required by Cobb County, which is now in the County’s hands.

That review required by the County further demonstrates that our facility is in compliance and safe.

Sterigenics has met the demands of public officials by further enhancing a state-of-the-art facility that is safe.

The only thing that remains is for the County to confirm that thefacility may be re-opened for full operation to meet the urgent needs facing health care workers and patients.

As we resume our operation on a limited basis, we are also working to fully resume all sterilization operations in the interest of protecting public health.”


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.

The company sterilizes medical equipment with ethylene oxide.

The site has been the subject of community organizing and protests.

In February scheduled testing at the plant was canceled, and last Monday the previously canceled testing was resumed.