CHARLESTON, W.Va. – The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) is hosting a community open house to provide information and update the public on its actions to address Ethylene Oxide (EtO) air emissions in the western areas of Kanawha County.
The open house is set for Saturday, March 26 from 10 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the Dunbar Recreation Center, located at 2601 Fairlawn Avenue in Dunbar. Doors will open at 9:30 a.m.
Staff from different sections within the WVDEP's Division of Air Quality will be present, along with staff from the State Department of Health and Human Resources' Bureau for Public Health and the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency (EPA).
A brief introduction and overview will be given to start the forum and then citizens will have the opportunity to meet with WVDEP staff and ask questions. A second introduction and overview will be given around 12:30 p.m.
Community members are encouraged to attend and come and go as they please. No formal agenda will be followed.
"We want to provide the opportunity for folks to meet with our staff one-on-one so that we can help address any concerns they might have," said WVDEP Cabinet Secretary Harold Ward. "This will also allow for instant feedback so that we can make sure those who may not be familiar with this issue understand the information."
EtO is a colorless, odorless gas used in the production of a variety of everyday products. It is also used to sterilize medical and surgical equipment and personal protective equipment.
The South Charleston and Institute areas include census tracts identified by the EPA as having a potentially elevated lifetime cancer risk, primarily driven by EtO emissions. The finding regarding the elevated risk associated with EtO was not due to new emission sources or increased emissions from permit holders, but rather to the EPA's finding that long-term exposure to EtO may be more harmful than previously thought.
Additional information about EtO and the steps the WVDEP has taken to address the issue are available on the WVDEP's EtO webpage
To receive future updates on EtO from the WVDEP, sign up for the agency's EtO mailing list