Georgia Attorney General Moves to Shutter BD Sterilization Plant

November 8, 2019

Georgia’s Attorney General filed a complaint to temporarily stop Becton, Dickinson from operating its Covington medical device sterilization facility “in an unlawful manner.”

The state claims that from Sept. 15, 2019 through Sept. 22, 2019, BD violated the Georgia air quality rules when it “negligently allowed the release of 54.5 pounds of ethylene oxide into the atmosphere, which upon further investigation has been determined to have been 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 Office of the Attorney General said.

The state said that BD should be shut down until it demonstrates to the Court that it has completed the following actions:

  • Trained all technicians on the proper operation of all valves in the facility;
  • Completed corrective action to prevent a future release from all vacuum exhaust valves at the facility by installing blanks on the outlets to all vacuum exhaust valves to prevent flow regardless of valve position or condition; and
  • Installed necessary pollution control equipment to capture fugitive emissions of ethylene oxide at the facility and route them to a control device with at least 99 percent efficiency.

“Today’s action by the state of Georgia is a result of BD’s lack of response to these recent violations, which is in stark contrast to the response that Governor Kemp and EPD have gotten from other similar medical commercial sterilizers in Georgia that have complied with EPD’s requests and are progressing in their efforts to reduce ethylene oxide emissions,” said AG Chris Carr.