The Sterigenics facility in Smyrna, Aug. 20, 2019.

The Sterigenics facility in Smyrna, Aug. 20, 2019. / GPB News

A lawsuit has been filed by employees of a distribution center in Lithia Springs and a medical sterilization plant in Cobb County.

The lawsuit alleges that the employees were exposed to ethylene oxide, according to the Atlanta Journal Constitution. Federal regulators have recently tied the chemical to the development of cancer.

A previous Environmental Protection Agency report suggested that neighborhoods surrounding the plant would have an elevated risk of cancer because of exposure to the chemical.

Earlier this month, the EPA Office of Inspector General criticized a previous decision by the agency to not disclose the findings of that report to residents around the plant.

The lawsuit names Sterigenics, the company behind the sterilization center, as well as its parent company Sotera Health and ConMed Corporation, which operates the warehouse.

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In the lawsuit, employees said they were exposed to items saturated in the chemical. They also claim that the superviors lied and misled them about the risk.

“The lawsuit filed today seeks to hold Sterigenics and ConMed liable to the 53 injured victims for exposing them to large quantities of Ethylene Oxide gas over a long period of time without their knowledge or consent,” Eric J. Hertz, the lead attorney for the plaintiffs, said in a statement given to the AJC.

Sterigenics was already under scrutiny from the Cobb government over permitting issues and reporting of ethylene oxide emissions. A federal judge issued a temporary restraining order against the county earlier this month.