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Planned facility causing concerns about chemicals in Tucson

Becton Dickinson Company Facility Site Google Earth.png
Posted at 5:24 PM, Feb 01, 2022
and last updated 2022-02-03 15:01:04-05

TUCSON, Ariz. (KGUN) — Becton, Dickinson and Company is planning to build a medical and surgical equipment sterilization facility in Tucson. The facility would use a potentially dangerous chemical called ethylene oxide and be located near Valencia and Kolb.

“They fly planes with live ordnance all day long and this plant will be sited immediately adjacent to where they land and take off,” said Ward 6, City Council Member, Steve Kozachik about the proximity to Davis-Monthan.

Kozachik says the location puts too many people at risk if there was ever an accidental release either at the facility or in transport on city streets.

“If you have an evaporative cooler, you are sucking this stuff into the vents while Tucson fire is trying to contain it before you even know it's coming into your house,” said Kozachik.

The planned facility is still in the permitting phase with the City of Tucson and Pima County even as the Environmental Protection Agency is currently reviewing regulations to determine whether legal standards for ethylene oxide can be further strengthened.

BD spokesperson Troy Kirpatrick defended the planned facility in an email to KGUN9 saying “Medical device sterilization is essential to a functioning and effective health care system.” He went on to say, “We have a strong track record of compliance and safety at our sterilization facilities.”

He also said the emissions from the facility would be controlled to levels well below the EPA risk threshold and “The new facility is not in the regular flight path of the Air Force base. All materials will be transported in accordance with Department of Transportation regulations.”

Kozachik says he hopes the city and county can put a stop to the project before it even starts.

"We know the higher standards are coming, we know we cannot protect the public in case of catastrophic release, therefore deny it, deny the permits.”