Cobb: Sterigenics barred from construction, sterilization

<p><span class="wsc-spelling-problem" data-spelling-word="Sterigenics" data-wsc-lang="en_US">Sterigenics</span> in Cobb County</p>

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

Credit: � 2019 Cox Media Group.

<p><span class="wsc-spelling-problem" data-spelling-word="Sterigenics" data-wsc-lang="en_US">Sterigenics</span> in Cobb County</p>

Cobb sent a letter to Sterigenics Tuesday telling the company it is not allowed to engage in any construction or sterilization activity at its facility near Smyrna pending county approval.

The letter, which was signed by a county attorney, said Cobb has not issued a construction permit or a certificate of occupancy based on the plant's recent designation as a "high hazard" industrial site.

“[T]he county is exercising its regulatory and public safety diligence based upon the revised construction plans and High Hazard occupancy,” it reads. “[T]his critical regulatory review cannot be rushed or haphazardly conducted.

“In deference to public safety and the best interests of Cobb County residents, we will take the necessary steps to ensure compliance with various highly-technical building and fire codes.”

Sterigenics has been the subject of controversy over its permitted use of ethylene oxide, a carcinogenic and combustible gas, to sterilize medical equipment.

The plant, which is located on Olympic Industrial Drive, suspended operations in August in order to install new emission controls per an agreement with the state.

But in reviewing Sterigenics' plans, county officials decided to reclassify the building from "storage" to high hazard industrial, effectively freezing further construction.

The new classification comes with increased fire safety regulations that could pose a challenge to Sterigenics resuming operations at the Cobb location.

In a statement, Sterigenics said it has always operated “with a focus on safety.”

“We continue to engage with officials regarding the process to resume operations,” the statement said. “We have made significant progress in completing the necessary construction to implement the enhancements approved by the Georgia EPD.”

“The sterilization of vital medical products and devices at our Atlanta facility is critical to keeping patients safe and extended delay in resuming those operations places patient safety at risk.”