EPA to hold community meeting in Laredo this week

Published: Sep. 12, 2022 at 6:19 PM CDT
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LAREDO, TX (KGNS) - A long-awaited conversation is finally taking place.

The Environmental Protection Agency is visiting Laredo to hear concerns from residents about the toxicity in our city.

It’s a top concern that has been haunting Laredo residents for several months now.

Concerned community members have been fighting back against ethylene oxide emissions from Midwest Sterilization and they might get some answers this week as the EPA is set to hold a community meeting.

Residents believe the conversation is long overdue.

“I spoke to one woman who said that her child had passed away and that all they know is that it was environmental”, said Clean Air Laredo Coalition Member Vanessa Perez. “I’ve spoken to business owners that have said that they have some employees that have cancer and that it’s very aggressive, it keeps coming back.”

The coalition says they have many expectations from the meeting.

“Hopefully EPA will, one, change their policies to be stricter to not allow as many emissions if any. Hopefully, maybe require them to phase out of using ethylene oxide altogether and adopt other methods”, said Perez.

And the minimum they expect is an air monitoring program.

As they feel it’s contradictory for Midwest to claim they have clean air without monitoring.

While concerns from residents in the area grow regarding the amount of contamination that’s in the air.

The coalition explains their aim is not anti-business, as there are several alternatives for sterilizing equipment that does not contaminate or harm humans.

“There’s hydrogen peroxide which is what people normally think of when you have a scrape or when you’re going to disinfect something at your home. There’s steam, which is basically just very hot water. And there’s gamma radiation that they can use as well”, said Sheila Serna.

The coalition expects this conversation to be just the first of many and hopes it can result in new partnerships from federal and state agencies.

“We’re hoping that we put enough pressure on EPA so that they can allocate some of their funds to doing side-by-side monitoring with us as well”, said Serna.

The meeting will take place Thursday, Sept. 15 at 6:30 pm in the TAMIU Fine and Performing Arts Recital Hall at 5201 University Boulevard.

Click here to register for the meeting.

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