Cobb County will put forth $39,600 to cover its portion of independent air testing around a Smyrna-area plant being blamed for high levels of cancer-causing emissions.
Cobb commissioners unanimously approved more than $79,000 worth of testing for ethylene oxide around the Sterigenics facility at 2973 Industrial Court in Smyrna. The county’s undesignated contingency budget will cover the expense; the city of Smyrna, meanwhile, is set to vote on funding its half of the bill at its next meeting Monday night, County Manager Rob Hosack said.
The proposed testing comes on the heels of reports that those living near the Cobb border with Fulton could be within six census tracts that have some of the highest ethylene oxide readings in the state. Conducting the tests will be independent air testing firm GHD Services Inc., which did the testing of ethylene oxide around a Sterigenics facility in Illinois.
Tuesday’s decision comes after a “tumultuous couple of weeks” for area residents, said Commissioner Bob Ott, who represents the affected district.
Commissioner Lisa Cupid, whose district also includes some of the area in question, said she hoped the testing would be “a reflection of what residents could be susceptible to.”
GHD is estimating a $79,200 cost to collect 15 air samples from indoor and outdoor locations in Smyrna and Cobb during a two-week period.
Hosack said the two governments would likely sit down with GHD to start air testing as quickly as possible after Smyrna approves its side of the contract.
“The only thing that might slow us down a little bit is if the city of Atlanta is interested in participating, and perhaps needs a little time to get something in front of their council,” Hosack said after Tuesday’s meeting. “I think we’d be amenable to doing that, seeing that this is a good potential partnership with both Smyrna and Atlanta.”
The GHD proposal also included a cost estimate of $133,700 for doubling the number of samples, from 15 to 30, should the city of Atlanta join the partnership.
If Atlanta were to join, Hosack said, the price tag could be split three ways, with each government paying just over $44,500.
“If Atlanta wanted to come back and potentially do a three-way split, I think we could come back to the board and seek their approval to do that,” Hosack added.
Commissioners’ vote on air testing will not be the county’s last action regarding the Sterigenics issue; it will host a meeting Monday involving federal EPA officials and staff from the Georgia EPD and the Atlanta-based Centers for Disease Control and Prevention. The doors of the Cobb County Civic Center at 548 South Marietta Parkway in Marietta will open at 5 p.m. for an open house featuring booths from the meeting’s participants and chances for residents to ask questions and the meeting starts at 7.
In other business Tuesday, commissioners tabled a $168,000 proposal with Atlanta-based Flock Safety to install cameras and license plate readers at a dozen county parks following Ott’s concerns that the measure needed language to prevent non-law-enforcement personnel from viewing the data.