This week, the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) reached an agreement with two companies to reopen medical sterilization facilities. Last year, after the U.S. EPA released new information about the harmful effects of the sterilization agent ethylene oxide, EPD closed the facilities over air pollution concerns. Spurred by the current medical supply needs related to the novel coronavirus, EPD has taken action to allow both plants to reopen.
For one of the facilities, results of a negative air pressure test indicated ethylene oxide emissions were being managed. With that information in hand, EPD provided the facility an emergency authorization to reopen during the pandemic while final reviews are underway.
Separately, EPD, EPA, and the owner of the other facility reached an agreement to increase productivity while reducing ethylene oxide emissions. According to an EPA press release, as part of the agreement to allow the facility to increase the amount of medical equipment it can sterilize, the company will install new air emissions controls at its facilities. The new controls are expected to significantly lower ethylene oxide emissions even as the company ramps up production.