A cancer-causing chemical has been on EPA’s radar for years. Why is it still there?

Read the full story from the Chattanooga Times Free Press.

When Jacquelyn Scott checked her mailbox in August, she found a letter from an unexpected sender: the Environmental Protection Agency.

Its message was even more surprising. A facility less than half a mile away from Scott’s south Memphis home — one that she didn’t know existed — emits ethylene oxide.

In its letter, the EPA told Scott and other residents that ethylene oxide is about 60 times more dangerous than it previously thought but assured them that the facility at 2396 Florida St. was following regulations.

Scott said she scanned the letter and put it aside. Soon after, she got an email from Memphis Community Against Pollution about a meeting at the South Branch Library to discuss ethylene oxide’s cancer risk. That message got Scott’s full attention.

Sterilization Services of Tennessee appeared on the EPA’s list of high-risk facilities in August, but the company has refused to comment until after there are new regulations on the books.

About 85% of ethylene oxide releases are fugitive emissions, meaning they escape through vents, doors and windows, but EPA regulations don’t account for this type of emission. The EPA is moving to enact tighter restrictions on the chemical’s emissions, but a pending lawsuit claims the agency has already missed two deadlines for new standards.

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