COVINGTON, Ga. — Alcovy Judicial Circuit Superior Court Judge Eugene Benton signed the consent order Monday morning, Oct. 28, that implemented a temporary cease in operations at the Becton Dickinson facility in Covington, which was an agreed-upon decision between BD and the Georgia Environmental Protection Division.
BD will temporarily cease operations from Wednesday, Oct. 30, to Nov. 6.
In addition to the temporary cease, BD must change the medical equipment sterilization process to reduce ethylene oxide emissions to no more than 30 pounds per month. The facility must also prevent future leaks from occurring by training all technicians on the proper operation of all valves in the facility.
The facility must comply with the conditions set forth by the state EPD to remain in compliance with the consent order; the case file will remain open until June 30, 2020, to ensure compliance.
The consent order between the state EPD and BD was agreed upon after the state filed a complaint against the sterilization facility for violations of Georgia law and rules, according to an Oct. 21 Office of Attorney General press release.
The complaint was filed after a week-long incident at BD — which occurred between Sept. 15-22 - that allowed 54.5 pounds of ethylene oxide to be leaked into the community's air. Attorney General Chris Carr claimed the leak was caused by "a lack of diligence and prolonged operator error rather than an equipment malfunction."
"In addition, BD has failed to take all responsible precautions to prevent fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide in a timely manner as required by the Act, the Rules and its Air Quality Permit," the press release stated.