COVINGTON, GA – Congressman Hank Johnson today sent letters to the federal Environmental Protection Agency and the state Environmental Protection Division demanding answers as to why his constituents in Covington were not informed about a dangerous chemical being released into the community’s air and asking what the environmental protection agencies are doing to protect the people who live near the plant that is discharging the carcinogenic chemical.
The letters reference reports that the BD Bard plant in Covington, which sterilizes medical equipment, is releasing ethylene oxide – a chemical the EPA says causes cancer. Concentrations of ethylene oxide in neighborhoods around the Covington plant range from 17 to 97 times the acceptable area concentration or AAC.
Although both the EPA and state EPD have known the chemical to be dangerous since 2016, neither agency informed the public.
Rep. Johnson said that’s unacceptable and independent testing of the air in and around the plant should be conducted as the only data on emissions of the chemical is self-reported by the plant. No air testing is currently being done near the Covington plant.
In his letters to the EPA and EPD, Johnson wrote: “Despite EPA’s knowledge of the significant danger ethylene oxide poses, the agency has seemingly failed to mitigate the release of the toxin. Moreover, the EPA has not issued any press releases about these findings notifying residents living within exposed areas -- failing to even notify families and communities that the very air they breathe could be poisonous. Only through diligent reporting did citizens learn of the potential peril from a carcinogenic in the air, information that the EPA held for two years. This lack of action is contrary to the EPA’s mission to ensure Americans have clean air and healthy living conditions.”