COBB COUNTY, Ga. (FOX 5 Atlanta) - Georgia officials have sent an emergency response team to the Sterigenics medical sterilization plant in Smyrna following a release of a known carcinogenic chemical into the air on July 31. The July 31 chemical leak forced an evacuation of the plant.
The company has been under fire for their use of ethylene oxide for the past month. Philip MacNabb, the president of Sterigenics, spoke to commissioners Monday during a work session.
"But what I told them, and I actually had a meeting with the president earlier today, was that this drib-drab release of information was unacceptable," Cobb County Commissioner Bob Ott said in reaction to the latest news about the leak.
The plant uses ethelyene oxide, a known carcinogen, to sterilize medical waste. The facility, and others, have come under the microscope for fears that unhealthy levels of the gas may be impacting heath for people that live nearby. As studies continue into the air quality and protection issues, residents are packing town hall meetings in Georgia and other states, to demand more restrictions on the chemical.
Even though this latest release was not major, officials said, it does nothing to alleviate fears in the community.
"Because right now, anything over 10 pounds they are required to report to the EPD, but less than 10 pounds we keep getting these drib-drab of information. So, I basically demanded from them this morning that I want them to release that information to the committee on a monthly basis and they have agreed," Ott said.
News of this July 31 release prompted state EPA officials to dispatch an emergency response team Tuesday evening to the Sterigenics plant.
"They are going out to determine how Stregenics determines how much is released, because according to EPD rules, they only have 15 minutes to notify EPD of a release that's over the 10 pounds. So, the question is, how do you do it, how do you determine how much is released?" Ott questioned.
For their side, the company said in a statement that detection sensors operated properly, and notified employees of the leak. The company said procedures were followed, employees were evacuated temporarily. It was determined that the leak fell below EPA reporting standards, Sterigenics said and corrective action was taken.
Sterigenics released the following statement Tuesday:
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