News Flash


Posted on: September 12, 2019

City of Covington provides Air Quality Testing Update

Image of ETO town hall

Release from City of Covington 10/2/19

--City of Covington Air Quality Testing Update--

Montrose Environmental, the company contracted by the City of Covington to test the air quality in Covington and several surrounding areas intends to complete the process by the end of this month. Once a final report is created, consultants from Montrose Environmental will travel to Covington and make a formal presentation of their findings. That date will be announced when available.

From September 15 to September 22, 2019 BD self-reported an Ethylene Oxide release. According to the report, approximately 7 pounds of Ethylene Oxide was released each day over the eight day period. State regulations do not require an organization to self-report spills under 10 pounds in a 24-hour period, but BD notified the EPD of the release. The City of Covington was provided a copy of the report sent to the EPD and it is attached.

--Clarification on BD’s Occupational Tax Permit--

From the beginning, City officials have worked to ensure the public understood BD has been and continues to operate under the requirements the EPA and EPD set for them. It was also made clear the City of Covington cannot suspend operations because BD is in compliance with Covington’s zoning code.

There is a common misconception the City issues business licenses which the City can either revoke or refuse to reissue. Instead, in accordance with Georgia law, local businesses are required to pay the City an annual occupational tax based upon their number of employees. What is commonly referred to as a “business license” is in fact the receipt showing payment of those taxes. In Georgia, permits for air emissions are issued and monitored by EPD and not local governments.

--BD’s Life Safety and Building Code Classifications are Correct--

Recent news reports in the Atlanta area indicate the classification for similar sterilization plants in neighboring cities may have been incorrect. This misclassification allowed for the suspension of activities until accurate codes were met. BD’s location in Covington has been correctly classified since the plant was constructed. The facility is inspected annually and was most recently inspected by building officials and the fire marshal’s office in August 2019.


The EPD announced it will test for ETO in the air around Covington and Smyrna in August. The agency will take samples every six days for several months with four monitoring locations chosen in Covington. The EPD is actively scouting for sites to place the air monitoring canisters and EPD plans to begin air monitoring in early October.  All test results will be shared with community officials and the public. Results will be shared with ATSDR and the Georgia Department of Public Health to be used for health-based studies they are planning to conduct.

In August, the Covington City Council voted on conducting its own sampling and hired Montrose Environmental. Montrose Emvironmental will place air collection canisters in 10 locations in Covington at determined locations including some that are in close proximity to BD.  Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston said testing will be conducted "as far as Conyers and as far as Burge Plantation" in Newton County. Covington plans on having the results toward the end of October. Tests will be conducted throughout a seven day period with more than 40 samples being taken and sent to two different labs.

To find out more information on ETO click here.

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