DEQ issues violation notice to Viant Medical

For Immediate Release
January 11, 2019
 
Contact:
Chris Ethridge, Air Quality Division, ethridgec@michigan.gov, 517-582-3063
Chelsea Lewis, DEQ Public Information Officer, lewisc21@michigan.gov, 517-284-6717
 
The Michigan Department of Environmental Quality (DEQ) has issued Viant Medical, Inc., (Viant) a violation notice for ethylene oxide emissions from the company’s operations in Kent County, as part of an active investigation. 
 
During an inspection in July 2018, the DEQ observed violations including a failure to adequately capture and control ethylene oxide emissions. A violation notice was issued to Viant requiring corrective action including the reduction of ethylene oxide emissions from the sterilization process. This violation notice also required Viant to conduct stack testing by November 30, 2018.
 
Ethylene oxide is a known carcinogen that has, in some people, been linked to specific types of cancers when a long-term exposure to high levels has occurred.  
 
In August 2018, the United States Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) released updated information on toxic chemical releases to the air. One Michigan location identified in the EPA air toxics update was Viant’s Grand Rapids medical equipment sterilization facility which reported emissions of ethylene oxide higher than state and federal health protective levels. 
 
In order to accurately determine the ethylene oxide emissions from Viant, the DEQ developed a computer model to show how the emissions of ethylene oxide could potentially impact the area around the facility. In combination with this computer model, actual air sampling was done to determine measurable amounts of ethylene oxide in the ambient (or outdoor) air immediately surrounding Viant. Air sampling was completed at the end of November 2018. The results of this 24-hour sampling indicated ethylene oxide levels higher than expected. Based on the sampling results, the DEQ sent a violation notice to Viant and began the process of escalated enforcement due to multiple violations.
 
In December 2018, an additional violation notice was issued to Viant for failure to conduct timely stack testing, as requested by the DEQ. Viant conducted the required stack testing on December 6, 2018.
 
The DEQ is in the planning stages of an additional, more comprehensive, round of air sampling. The DEQ is working with the Kent County Health Department as well as the Michigan Department of Health and Human Services in order to determine potential health impacts to the surrounding community. A community meeting is being planned for March 6, 2019, with a location to be determined.
 
For up to date information about the most recent actions by the DEQ, Viant’s compliance status, ethylene oxide, as well as a Frequently Asked Questions page, please go to www.michigan.gov/viant.