Press Releases

WASHINGTON, D.C. – Today, U.S. Senator Tom Carper (D-Del), Chairman of the Senate Environment and Public Works (EPW) Committee, applauded the Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) Inspector General (IG)’s request for the Biden Administration to reconsider the Trump Administration’s refusal to adequately inform residents living near ethylene oxide (EtO)-emitting facilities about potential increased health risks. The IG request comes after years of Senator Carper leading the charge for increased oversight and transparency surrounding EtO emissions and its impacts on the American people.

“It’s long overdue for the EPA to overhaul its approach to sharing information with communities living near facilities that could emit this dangerous chemical,” said Senator Carper. “The Trump EPA completely refused to adequately communicate the health risks of ethylene oxide exposure. In fact, the agency actively refused to engage with communities exposed to ethylene oxide, despite a directive from EPA’s own Inspector General and my repeated calls to do so. Given the Biden Administration’s focus on restoring transparency and scientific integrity, I have every reason to believe the new leadership at EPA will correct course here—and as Chairman of the Environment and Public Works Committee, I’ll keep up the fight until we see progress on this critical issue.”

Background

  • In January 2019, Senators Carper, Duckworth, and Durbin asked the EPA IG to investigate allegations that EPA political appointees impeded efforts to inspect facilities emitting EtO. In response to these letters, the IG began to review agency efforts to adequately communicate the health risks to communities in close proximity to EtO facilities.
  • On March 27, 2019, Senators Carper, Duckworth, and Durbin sent a letter to EPA seeking information on EtO emissions. In the letter, the senators request documents shedding light on the Trump EPA’s enforcement efforts at the Sterigenics Illinois plant and its management of risks posed by EtO at facilities nationwide.
  • On June 13, 2019, Senators Carper, Duckworth, and Booker sent a letter requesting that the EPA IG expand the scope of its ongoing audit of EPA’s Toxic Release Inventory (TRI) program. Specifically, the senators requested that the EPA IG also examine the agency’s use of TRI data to identify and respond to threats to human health and the environment, and whether EPA has and is using a mechanism to identify and enforce failures to comply with TRI reporting requirements. Additionally, the senators asked the EPA IG to broadly assess the overall reporting process including TRI data quality and data utility.
  • On November 6, 2019, EPA proposed amendments to the Miscellaneous Organic Chemical Manufacturing National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants to reduce hazardous air pollutants, including ethylene oxide.
  • On March 31, 2020, the EPA IG issued a Management Alert for EPA, directing the agency to take action and inform citizens living near the top 25 EtO-emitting facilities about the risks associated with EtO exposure.
  • On April 13, 2020, Senators Carper, Duckworth, and Durbin and Congressmen Foster and Schneider sent a letter to EPA asking it to comply with the IG report.
  • On July 8, 2020, Senators Carper, Duckworth, and Durbin sent a letter to EPA about the National Emission Standards for Hazardous Air Pollutants rulemaking process for EtO commercial sterilization and fumigation operations.
  • On August 11, 2020, Senator Carper and Congresswoman Lisa Blunt Rochester sent a letter to EPA expressing grave concerns over the apparent failure of the EPA to communicate the health risks of ethylene oxide to Delaware residents.
  • On August 19, 2020, the EPA IG called on EPA to take swift action and communicate with communities impacted by ethylene oxide, underscoring the agency’s continued failure to comply with its directive to perform outreach to those communities.
  • On August 27, 2020, EPA sent a letter to Senator Carper in response to both his ongoing oversight as EPW Ranking Member and the oversight of the EPA IG. EPA made clear it did not intend to comply with the IG’s recommendations.
  • On October 14, 2020, Senator Carper sent another letter to EPA asking the agency to do its job to share with Delaware citizens what it knows about the long-term risks associated with exposure to ethylene oxide.
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