After reports that emissions from a medical equipment sterilization plant near Smyrna put the surrounding community at elevated risk for cancer, Sterigenics leadership has committed to reducing the plant’s emissions, according to state Sen. Jen Jordan, D-Buckhead.
Last week, Georgia Health News and WebMD published a report citing elevated levels of a cancer-causing chemical called ethylene oxide at three locations in metro Atlanta, including two census tracts in the Smyrna area.
Sterigenics, the Illinois-based company that calls itself “the global leader in comprehensive sterilization solutions,” operates the facility near Smyrna, south of Atlanta Road and near the Chattahoochee River.
On Tuesday, Jordan said she and Rep. Erick Allen, D-Smyrna, spoke with the president of Sterigenics, Phil MacNabb, who told the two lawmakers the company would submit an application to the Georgia Environmental Protection Division within the next two weeks for the installation of emissions-reducing technology at the Cobb County plant that will “significantly reduce emissions and bring down any emissions to an acceptable level.”
If the application is approved, the technology would take about 12 weeks to complete, Jordan said. She also said the company would release a statement to that effect by the end of the day Tuesday.
“To be clear, these initial overtures are welcome, but they are just the beginning and will not cut off my office’s efforts to ensure that the people that live in my district are not being harmed,” Jordan said. “I know that there is a lot of troubling information out there, but just know that we are working to get answers and solutions.”
Kristin Gibbs, a spokesperson for Sterigenics, confirmed the company is pursuing emission reductions, but did not immediately respond to request for further comment.
Sterigenics was recently given the go-ahead to resume operations after installing new safety equipment designed to reduce the emission of ethylene oxide at a plant in Willowbrook, Illinois, according to The Chicago Tribune.
The Illinois Environmental Protection Agency shut down that facility in February after air quality monitoring recorded spikes of the toxic gas in surrounding neighborhoods, the newspaper reported.