In a major victory for the people of south Memphis, a plant that uses carcinogenic ethylene oxide to sterilize medical equipment announced this week that it is shutting down.
The decision by Sterilization Services of Tennessee follows more than a year of dogged organizing by residents and activists fed up with the industrial pollution that the company, and more than 20 others, releases into their community. Ethylene oxide, an odorless and colorless gas, has been linked to multiple forms of cancer.
“We’re relieved that the community will soon have one less polluting facility that they have to contend with,” Amanda Garcia, a senior attorney at the Southern Environmental Law Center, told Grist.
The facility opened in 1976 and is the flagship of Sterilization Services, which also has locations in Atlanta and Richmond, Virginia. In a letter to U.S. Representative Steve Cohen, a Democrat whose district includes Memphis, company attorneys said the facility will move, but did not disclose further details.