Ethylene Oxide: What’s Happened and What’s Next

If you aren’t familiar with this issue, according to an air toxins report released by the EPA (NATA), 6 of the 90 census tracts for the highest cancer risks were in the Kanawha Valley. Two plants, located in South Charleston and in Institute, are the big emitters that have contributed to ranking Kanawha County 10th for highest cancer risks in the United States. 

The EPA and WVDEP hosted a public meeting on September 23 to inform residents about the health risks and impacts of EtO, but it seemed as if everyone left with more questions than answers. WVDEP is supposed to be conducting on-site monitoring for both facilities to gather more data about the emissions, but this has not yet begun and we are unsure of when the results will be made available to the public. We assume from the response of a DEP representative that it could take several months, even up to a year before we are made aware of emission results. 

Follow up information is available on the WV DEP webpage: https://dep.wv.gov/daq/Air%20Toxics/EthyleneOxide/Pages/default.aspx and from the US EPA here: https://www.epa.gov/wv/virtual-community-meeting-about-ethylene-oxide

The EPA and WVDEP plan to host more public meetings on this issue, but no dates were specified in the last meeting. We plan to keep a close eye on this issue and keep pressing for answers and accountability as we move forward. We will keep you posted. Please plan to attend the next virtual town hall on December 7 with the WV DEP’s Environmental Advocate’s office where we will receive an update from the agency on its plans.

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