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Hice calls on BD for temporary shutdown
Congressman has harsh words for EPA too
BD Plant
Flags fly outside the Covington, Ga., medical sterilization facility of New Jersey-based Becton, Dickinson and Co. on Aug. 8, 2019. - photo by David Clemons

Two days after the state asked a Newton County judge to force a temporary shutdown of the plant, U.S. Rep. Jody Hice has called on Becton, Dickinson and Co. to suspend operations in Covington.

Georgia Attorney General Chris Carr on Monday filed a request for a temporary restraining order that would stop BD from operating its medical device sterilization plant in Covington due to an alleged violation of the state Air Quality Act.

The company is accused of allowing 54.5 pounds of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere between Sept. 15-22. The state is claiming a lack of diligence and prolonged operator error by the New Jersey-based company.

Nadgey Louis-Charles, a spokesperson for Hice, said he’s urged the federal Environmental Protection Agency to release updated regulations for sterilization facilities like the Covington BD plant that use ethylene oxide, also known as EtO.

“These new regulations are long overdue, and Congressman Hice will continue to press the EPA to carry out its duty to regulate EtO through proper methods,” Louis-Charles said in an exclusive statement to The Walton Tribune and The Covington News.

“Unfortunately, the agency’s actions to fulfill this responsibility have been underwhelming to this point.”

Hice, who is in Washington, said the EtO leak was far larger than the company first reported.

Louis-Charles said the congressman’s request was “in the best interest of the community … while efforts are made to ensure the safety of the company’s employees and the public.”

She noted the complaint filed by Georgia Gov. Brian Kemp and the state Environmental Protection Division, a move the company said was unnecessary.

“Congressman Hice applauds Gov. Kemp’s work to protect Georgians, and he joins the governor in petitioning BD to operate in good faith by engaging in transparent and safe practices at its Covington plant for the good of the community and the state.”

Hice, a Republican from Greensboro, represents eastern Newton County.