TCEQ Public Comments

October 12, 2023

On Tuesday evening, Oct 17, at 6:30pm, the Texas Commission on Environmental Quality (TCEQ) will hold a hearing at the TAMIU Recital Hall (fine and performing arts center) regarding an air permit renewal requested by Midwest Sterilization Corp.

For the first time, community members will be able to voice their concerns and ask the state environmental agency and Missouri-based sterilization company questions about their air permit renewal, which is required for use of the dangerous air toxin to sterilize medical equipment.

Midwest submitted their request to the state agency in February, asking to emit more than three tons of ethylene oxide per year into the Laredo air. The company can only renew its permit once every 10 years.

After opening its Laredo facility in 2005, Midwest Sterilization has ranked among the country’s highest polluters of ethylene oxide; last summer, the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency ranked the Laredo facility among the top 23 high risk sterilizer facilities in the United States and has revealed significantly high cancer level risks in Laredo because of this air toxic.

The TCEQ will decide whether to open a contested case hearing against Midwest if Laredo meets certain criteria for “affected persons.”

The Oct. 17 hearing will be divided in two parts:

  1. Informal Discussion period - responses will be given to questions asked by the public either by TCEQ or Midwest but won’t be made part of the official record; and
  2. Formal Comment period - will become part of the official record.

Individuals can come forward as potentially affected persons by submitting comments in writing anytime before the October 17 hearing, or during the Formal Comment period at the actual hearing. Comments can be sent electronically before the hearing by clicking here: https://www14.tceq.texas.gov/epic/eComment/ (enter Permit Number 55557).

About Ethylene oxide (EtO)

EtO is a Level 1 carcinogenic gas used in Laredo to sterilize medical equipment. It is mutagenic meaning that it causes damage to a cell’s DNA. The EPA has classified it as one of the most hazardous air toxins that pose the greatest health threat in urban areas. In 2016, the EPA found that EtO is 60 times more toxic to children and 30 times more toxic to adults than previously estimated.

WHO: Texas Commission on Environmental Quality

WHAT: Public Hearing - Air Permit Renewal for Midwest Sterilization Corp.

DATE: Tuesday, October 17

TIME: 6:30 pm

WHERE: Texas A&M International University Center for Fine and Performing Arts, Recital Hall (5201 University Blvd., 78041)

DETAILS: Free and open to the public.

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