INSTITUTE, W.Va. — The West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) hosted the first of two public meetings planned regarding Specialty Products US, LLC and their renewal application of an air quality permit at their Institute facility.

The permit in discussion is a Title V permit. It is an operating permit used to include all the facility’s applicable air requirements and lists them under one permit. The Tile V permits are reissued every five years.

The WVDEP held their public meeting Monday at West Virginia State University.

Public Information Officer for the WVDEP Terry Fletcher said the renewal of the permit is to make sure any new applicable requirements or changes to existing requirements for the facility are included.

“We review all the state and federal rules that that facility is subject to and then we make any updates that have happened in those previous five years,” Fletcher said.

The company, Specialty Products US, LLC, makes a water-soluble polymer known as polyethylene oxide, which is commonly used in pharmaceuticals and personal care products. It is manufactured by reacting various chemicals to form a solid in the prescence of a diluent.

Some residents are concerned about the emission of ethlyene oxide (EtO) in the area. Ethylene oxide is a colorless gas which also presents several physical and health hazards.

According to data from the WVDEP, Specialty Products US, LLC’s ethylene oxide emissions in tons per year was 0.48 in 2022. Data from the Environmental Protection Agency said Specialty Products site in Institute emitted 3,950 pounds of ethylene oxide from 2018 to 2022.

Fletcher said the facility entered a collaborative agreement with WVDEP to conduct required leak detection and repair testing. The enhanced testing is to try and limit EtO emissions in the area.

“Hopefully, it’ll reduce the risk and some concerns from citizens,” he said.

The site is located at 250 Carbide Road in Institute. Union Carbide entered into a similar agreement with WVDEP with a Title V permit. They are located at the same facility as Specialty Products where they unload rail cars that contain EtO.

“They’re all just designed to help reduce the amount of EtO in the area,” said Fletcher.

A virtual public hearing is set for March 19 at 6 p.m. Written comments to the WVDEP are due by March 29.