ATLANTA, GA – Attorney General Chris Carr today filed a complaint in Newton County Superior Court on behalf of Governor Brian Kemp and the Environmental Protection Division of the Georgia Department of Natural Resources (EPD) to temporarily stop Becton, Dickinson and Company (BD) from operating its Covington medical device sterilization facility in an unlawful manner.

From September 15, 2019 through September 22, 2019, BD violated the Georgia Air Quality Act and the Rules for Air Quality Control 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 state believes that BD should be shut down until it demonstrates to the Court that it has completed the following actions:

  1. Trained all technicians on the proper operation of all valves in the facility;
  2. 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
  3. 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.

Despite Governor Kemp and EPD’s attempts at continued, transparent communication, the state believes that BD has failed to be a cooperative partner and has not demonstrated to EPD that it has made progress toward reducing ethylene oxide emissions at its Covington facility.

Please see the attached documents for more information on today’s legal action.