McALLEN, Texas (Border Report) — The Clean Air Laredo Coalition on Wednesday night is holding a neighborhood meeting to inform Laredo residents affected by long-term exposure to cancer-causing ethylene oxide emissions.
The meeting comes ahead of an Oct. 17 public hearing by the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) that is reviewing a request by Midwest Sterilization Corp., for an air quality permit renewal.
Midwest Sterilization operates medical equipment cleaning facilities in Laredo and is located near several schools.
Ethylene oxide, or EtO is a Level 1 odorless, colorless gas that has been used to sterilize medical equipment at Midwest since the facility opened in Laredo in 2005, according to information provided by the company.
The Environmental Protection Agency in July 2022 released a study linking EtO levels with the facility, saying it has caused “elevated cancer risk in the Laredo community.”
In September 2022, the EPA held a similar town hall meeting in Laredo to discuss ethylene oxide.
The nonprofit Earthjustice and the Clean Air Laredo Coalition have demanded the closure of the sterilization facility, and filed lawsuits against the EPA alleging lax oversight.
The organizations say the Laredo facility is among the highest emitters of the carcinogenic air toxin in the nation.
Wednesday’s meeting will be held at 6:30 p.m. CDT at the Frasken Community Center, located at 15201 Cerralavo Dr., in Laredo.
The purpose of the meeting is to prepare residents to tell their health stories relating to exposure to ethylene oxide, organizers say.
“This is our community’s moment to come forward and tell the state of any negative health impacts that they may be experiencing because of continuous long-term exposure to this extremely dangerous air toxic,” Rio Grande International Study Center Climate Science and Policy Director Sheila Serna said. “Ultimately, we need TCEQ to open a contested case hearing to hold Midwest accountable and to address this significant public health threat in Laredo.”
Neighborhoods especially affected include: La Bota Ranch, Indian Sunset, Wolf Creek, and Villas San Agustin, and to those who work in businesses within the Killam Industrial Park.
Anyone who has lived or worked or attended school near Midwest Sterilization also is encouraged to attend. As well as anyone diagnosed with breast cancer, acute or chronic lymphocytic leukemia, and both extranodal and nodal Hodgkin’s lymphoma.
Sandra Sanchez can be reached at SSanchez@Borderreport.com.