- WEB EXCLUSIVE
- PE COFFEEHAUS
The EPA, along with the Department of Justice, announced on Aug. 18, 2005 the first nationwide settlement for air emission violations of ethylene oxide. Under the consent decree, Cosmed Group Inc., will pay a $500,000 civil penalty and spend an additional $1 million to perform supplemental environmental projects that will improve air quality in urban areas. The company also will complete environmental audits at all eight of its current and former facilities, and establish an environmental management system that will help ensure that the company fully complies with environmental regulations in the future at its three remaining facilities.
Ethylene oxide is a probable human carcinogen that may cause serious reproductive harm, irritate the lungs, and damage the liver and kidneys. As a volatile organic compound, ethylene oxide also contributes to the formation of ground-level ozone, commonly known as SMOG. SMOG can irritate respiratory systems, causing coughing and throat irritation. The chemical is used by Cosmed as a gas to sterilize food and medical products. The EPA found violations of ethylene oxide MACT requirements at six of the eight sterilization facilities in six states.
“This case underscores both the importance of enforcement of EPA's MACT standards to protect the public health, and the value of coordinated national environmental enforcement efforts to address widespread violations at multiple facilities owned by the same company,” said Acting Assistant Attorney General Kelly A. Johnson, for the Justice Department's Environment and Natural Resources Division. “The Department of Justice is committed to taking vigorous, nationwide enforcement action to ensure that companies make compliance with the MACT standards a top priority.”
A copy of the consent decree may be available at www.usdoj.gov/enrd/pressroom.htm.