COVINGTON, Ga. - During the July 23 Newton County Board of Commissioners meeting, Ellen Kondracki, vice president of Environmental Health and Safety for BD, addressed the concerns from local residents about the levels of toxins released into the air.
She ensured the BOC that her personal responsibility was to protect the facility's associates and communities where BD operated.
“That’s something I take very seriously as part of my leadership role within the company,” Kondracki said.
Kondracki has been employed with BD for 14 years, having moved up within the company. She was involved with the integration of Bard when BD acquired the company in 2017.
BD has been working for decades to sterilize medical devices to ensure the protection of patients from infectious diseases, according to Kondracki. One of the methods used to sterilize the devices is ethylene oxide, a colorless and flammable gas.
The facility is equipped with state of the art equipment, according to Kondracki, which destructs 99.95 percent of emissions when the facility is only required by law to destroy 99 percent of emissions. The .05 percent of emissions that are released into the air are considered trace emissions.
“We are continuing to constantly look at ways to reduce trace emissions that may come off the product, and that’s what we are currently working with EPD on,” Kondracki said.
BD has been working alongside EPD since December 2018. The company works under an air permit, issued by the EPD, that requires stack testing, which confirms the destruction rate efficiency of emissions released from the equipment.
Kondracki assured that the company was “under compliance with the air permit.”
District 3 Commissioner Nancy Schulz addressed the “extraordinary high rate” of breast cancer and the “fairly high rate” of lung cancer in the Newton area. She stated that the high rate of cancer was “not all related to emissions from the industry.”
“That’s also impacted by emissions from automobiles and transportation and different types of air quality,” Schulz said. “As we begin to look at this, we have a responsibility as a board, even if BD is doing their monitoring and they are not the influencer, we still have a problem. We have to unpack what’s causing that problem.
“The end result is that our citizens are being impacted. It may not be a BD problem. It may be a problem for the community at large.”