The first results of independent air testing around the Sterigenics plant in Cobb County could be known as early as next week.

The governments of Cobb County, Smyrna and Atlanta are paying independent firm GHD to collect air samples in communities around the plant and have results analyzed in a laboratory.

GHD completed its first week of testing from Sept. 3 to Sept. 8 and the results of those tests could be back from the lab as soon as Monday for discussion at a meeting of the group established by Smyrna Mayor Max Bacon to oversee the testing — the Air Quality Oversight Committee — member and Smyrna Fire Chief Roy Acree said.

“We will share the data from the first round when it comes in,” he said.

GHD has temporarily suspended its air sampling while construction at the Sterigenics facility continues to reduce emissions of the carcinogen ethylene oxide from about 260 pounds a year to around 40 pounds.

Acree said testing will resume in October when the plant is back to full operations.

“We had a week of testing while we knew they (Sterigenics) were not operating,” he said. “We will continue after we know they are back in operations. That way, we have both to contrast and compare.”

People are concerned the ethylene oxide emissions from the plant, which uses the toxic chemical to sterilize over a million medical devices every day, is causing cancers among those living and working nearby.

Air testing is also being conducted by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, the state agency responsible for ensuring facilities like Sterigenics operate in compliance with the federal Clean Air Act.

The Cobb Sterigenics facility, off Atlanta Road, is currently not using any ethylene oxide while construction workers install better emissions capture and control methods inside, with the work expected to be complete by mid-October.

The oversight committee’s meeting is open to the public and is scheduled for 11 a.m. Sept. 16 in the Magnolia Room of the Smyrna Community Center at 200 Village Green Circle.

While anyone can attend the committee’s meetings, they are not designed for public input as some county meetings are.


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