Sens. Tom Carper, D-Delaware; Tammy Duckworth, D-Illinois; and Dick Durbin, D-Illinois, asked the Environmental Protection Agency’s Office of Inspector General on Jan. 17 to immediately launch an independent investigation into a serious allegation that the Donald Trump EPA is failing to protect the American public from cancer-causing emissions of Ethylene Oxide.

Duckworth’s staff received information alleging that EPA senior political appointees instructed career civil servants to avoid conducting inspections of facilities that emit EtO, a known carcinogen.

On Nov. 25, 2018, a gasket failure at the Croda chemical plant in New Castle caused a leak of EtO, releasing about 2,700 pounds of the material and causing a shutdown of the Delaware Memorial Bridge for several hours.

“We urge the EPA OIG to swiftly begin a thorough independent investigation into allegations that senior EPA political appointees instructed or impeded investigations of facilities that emit EtO,” the senators wrote. “Americans rely on EPA to protect them from public threats posed by contaminated air and water. The allegation that EPA may be preventing its personnel from carrying out this critical mission as a result of politically-motivated interference is disturbing and must be investigated to determine the truth.”

Duckworth, the top Democrat on the EPW Subcommittee on Fisheries, Waters and Wildlife, questioned EPA administrator nominee Andrew Wheeler during his Senate confirmation hearing over this report — and to answer for why no EPA staff are inspecting any facilities that emit ethylene oxide in EPA Region 5 or across the country.

A PDF of the letter is available at