Tuesday, August 28, 2007

Your Voice Always Makes a Difference

Good Morning Neighbor:

If anyone questioned the power of the citizen's voice, they should have been at Fairburn City Hall last night!!!  I was proud to say I was there to see the City Council unanimously deny the Transfer Station's site plan.  I am also extremely proud to say that Mayor Hannah gave her total support in our meeting regarding the creation of an Environmental Board.  The City of Fairburn is well on its way to becoming the Premier Urban Green City in Georgia.

Please take the time to phone or email Fairburn City Hall to let them know what an awesome door to the future they are opening for all Georgians.

Your neighbor,


Constance Thomas Biemiller, Chairman
South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force

Monday, August 27, 2007

Environmental Board

Good Morning Neighbor:

First, let me remind you that tonight is the vote regarding the Transfer Station in the City of Fairburn.  Be there and show you care - Fairburn City Hall at 7pm!!

 Secondly, I will be meeting with Mayor Hannah this morning at 10 am to discuss the creation of an Environmental Board.  This would be a permanent Board  comprised of Citizens and Environmentalist.  This Board would fall under Planning and Zoning -  any permit that is sought that would have an environmental impact on the city must always go through this board for approval before reaching the City Council.  I will be requesting the immediate creation of this Board and the delay of the transfer station vote until this protocol is established.

I look forward to seeing you tonight!!!

Your Neighbor,


Constance Thomas Biemiller, Chairman
South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force

Saturday, August 25, 2007


> Hi Neighbor:
> The scientific team has made me aware that GDOH first made contact
> with Dr. Glickman in Sept. 2006 - the results were not publicly
> presented at that time. And, GDOH was conferring with AMVAC in
> Alabama as to how to break the news to us about the Ethoprop and
> not with Dr. Glickman. Now you can see why I am not on the
> scientific team. If you would like further detail, please plan to
> be at our Sept. 6 meeting.
> Your neighbor,
> Connie


Good Morning Neighbor:

Our Scientific Committee led by Dr. Lois Speaker has thoroughly researched the Georgia Department of Health Open Records obtained by Ben Nelms of The Citizen.  The findings are unbelievable!!!  The GDOH was made aware of our exposure through research that was being conducted by national researchers who were looking for markers of possible Bio-terrorism in our Nation.  When a spike in animal illness in our area showed up on their radar screen, the GDOH was contacted to make them aware of a possible chemical event happening in the Fairburn area beginning in May 2006.  The findings of our exposure were formally presented at Purdue University in September 2006 - but we the victims were never told.  The Open Records show that the GDOH was pondering how to tell us but they chose not to do so.

I am including a summary of the Scientific Committees research into this matter.  Please let me know what you think and what you feel our next step as community might be?  Also, please plan to attend our September 6 meeting at Bethany United Methodist at 7pm!!!

Your neighbor,


Constance Thomas Biemiller, Chairman
South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force



Here are direct quotations relating to the Fulton/Fayette Ethoprop Emissions Events of summer, 2006.  They come from a web pre-publication article entitled "LAHVA:  Linked Animal-Human Health Visual Analytics," authored by Ross Maciejewski, Benjamin Tyner, Yun Jang, Cheng Zheng, Rimma V. Nehms, David S. Ebert, William S. Cleveland, Mourad Ouzzani, Shaun J. Grannis, Lawrence T. Glickman.  The article will appear in 2007 in the IEEE Symposium on Visual Analytics Science and Technology (VAST).  Much of the information, which was made anonymous for this article, has already been presented at symposia at the University of Illinois and the IBM Research Center.


The gist of the results is that the data, having been subjected to the most rigorous mathematical pummeling, confirmed that animal health in the area of release [area not specified (Task Force)] was negatively affected during the period of the emissions.



Quotations from the pre-pub:


. . . Thus, monitoring the companion animal population of a society (i.e., dogs, cats) can provide early warning signs for emerging diseases.  In conjunction, exposures to many substances, such as pollutants, chemicals, allergens and natural toxins, originate from the environment and can have a detrimental effect on health.  Companion animals are exposed to the same substances as humans and monitoring their health can function as a "canary in a coal mine"[27].It has long been the goal of healthcare officials to identify and prevent hazardous exposures; however, lack of infrastructure and reportability in human health monitoring has hindered progress in this area.


Currently, our work has. . . focused on . . . (2) the effects of an industrial wastewater release on companion animals and the correlation to potential human health issues. . . . several syndromes for both cats and dogs were analyzed and preliminary results indicated that the industrial wastewater release negatively influenced the health of companion animals in this region.  Ongoing analysis is being performed in both cases before any definitive confirmations can be made. . . .


. . . [Human] data sources vary widely in accuracy and reliability, and it is often the case that unusual health trends, such as outbreaks or poisonings, often have an incidence profile (signal) that is obscured by the statistical noise….current population monitoring systems face other challenges . .. do not leverage existing messaging and vocabulary standards, . . . require manual data input, . . . lack of timely data acquisitions, data quality concerns and accurate data linkage. . . .our work focuses on syndromic surveillance by using companion animals as predictors to increase sensitivity and specificity. [underlined by the Task Force].  


In order to examine the effects of the release, the local Department of Health led an investigation in the region.  . ..human population of approximately 8,500 [is this correct, Task Force?  Of course, the region is not defined in this paper, so it could be drawn to include variable numbers] and the combined human population of the nearby communities is approximately 28,000 [same comment, Peachtree City and Fayetteville are both bigger than this!]    Unfortunately, lack of human health data sources [there must be an explanation for this (Task Force)] led the local Department of Health to assess these effects through a self-reported survey.  In contrast, our study focuses on pets in a twenty-mile radius surrounding the site using data from Banfield, the pet hospital. We have patient records for 74,660 dog and 21,202 cat visitations in this area spanning the time period prior to and following the release date.


…Three syndromes were identified as being potential indicators of adverse effects due to a release:  eye inflammation, respiratory, and gastrointestinal.  . . In the week following the spill, what seems to be an unusual amount of eye-inflammation cases appear near the source. . . to further verify that problems with eye-inflammation occurred, the bootstrapping method . . .was applied. . .  results indicate that eye-inflammation in dogs was significant near the release in our time period of interest [underlining ours;  note that "significant" means "statistically significant" and is therefore very important (Task Force)].. . Future work will focus on verification . . . and system enhancements.




  • Sept 2, someone from Georgia Department of Public Health asks Purdue veterinary epidemiologists to assist in an investigation, providing the following information.


  • On May 29, 2006 (later modified to "late June", 2006), Phillips Services Corporation emits noxious chemical [It is not  clear whether the Purdue team was told that, beginning in late May, there were multiple releases over at least a  two- month period.  PSC admitted to EPD that 38 highway tankers had been accepted, but they had contracted with AMVAC for 3 million gallons of "wash water", which would be 600 tanker loads!(Task Force)]
  • 600 residents sickened by onion-like chemical odor  [attributed to propyl mercaptan, one of the breakdown products of insecticide Ethoprop, (Task Force}]

·  Like the owners, many dogs and cats are sick, nearly all within 2-mile radius of PSC plant.


·  Pets dying from June – Aug, with signs of vomiting, diarrhea, skin irritation dyspnea [shortness of breath (Task Force)]


·  Chemical pesticide identified as Ethoprop



Here are descriptions of the NCASP/LHVA system that is the basis of the extracts above.  It is both critical and puzzling that, throughout all the interactions between the SF/FC Task Force and CDC/ATSDR over more than a year, Dr. Glickman and the important, pertinent results his team was developing were never mentioned to the Task Force!    We learned of these only in late June, 2007, more-or-less by accident.  Under the Georgia Open Records Act, we received a packet of internal ATSDR e-mails relating to the preparation of the final "Health Consultation"  by ATSDR.  In this packet we found records of contacts and his findings, which included (Oct. 27, 2006)    "Control charts run for the GI (vomiting and diarrhea) syndrome showed unusually high and statistically significant [underlining ours, Task Force] activity for dogs living 0 – 10 and 10 – 20 miles from (the) PSC plant during weeks 25 and 26 (June 18 – July 1) in 2006, but no unusual activity for dogs living more that 20 miles from PSC."  But the Health Consultation had "no recommendations at this time,"  implying that there had never been a real problem.




Dr. Glickman


Dr. Larry T. Glickman of Purdue University has a large team working on development and application of NCASP (below) and the analysis and proof of concept of NCASP data by LAHVA (below)..  Dr. Glickman's background and reputation are impeccable – more than 250 papers published in refereed journals, collaborative cross-disciplinary research with experts from several fields  Enthusiastic members of his team have been working pro bono for months with data originating with Banfield, the animal hospital of Petsmart, from the Fulton/Fayette Ethoprop Emissions Events.  Obviously, the data they worked with related to pets, and it is important to the proof of concept that there be human data for comparison.   In spite of the involvement of CDC and ATSDR, human data were so scarce as to be almost nonexistent.  This is a gap that the SC&FC Task Force could offer to fill through house-to-house interviews, using expanded report sheets to walk people retrospectively through their experiences of the Emissions Events.



NCASP,  National Companion Animal Surveillance System

Tradtional surveillance has emphasized disease detection.  Collection and analysis of data concerning the occurrence of unusual health events in a population is not sufficient for protecting public health.   9/11 showed that new methods are needed to detect unusual disease patterns earlier than the traditional approaches do.
Syndromic surveillance can

·  Provide surveillance for syndromic [pre-diagnostic clusters of symptoms (Task Force)] and disease events in pet animals in U. S.

·  Detect diseased individuals before a definitive diagnosis is possible, at the signs and symptoms (indications and warnings) stage. 

·  Detect outbreaks earlier and with greater sensitivity than diagnosis-based surveillance.

·  Is usually based on chief complaints, clinical signs, and laboratory findings.

·  May include non-patient indications and warnings before diagnosis (e.g., absences from work or school, frequency and pattern of phone calls from healthcare providers, ambient temperature, etc.)

·  Conduct statistical analyses to identify space-time clusters of events and risk factors (host environment) for disease

·  Alert to the potential for acts of bioterrorism and emerging zoonoses [diseases communicable between animals and man (Task Force)]

·   Signal sufficient probability [i.e., sufficient mathematical probability, rather than waiting for the canary to die [Task Force)] of an outbreak

·  Serve as a sentinel for environmental hazards [like release of toxic chemicals] [that threaten] human and animal health

·  Provide information about threats to humans, such as the presence of toxic chemical or infectious agents in the environment or the home.

·  Use the same same epidemiological and biostatistical methods (incuding descriptive and analytical techniques) as for people.

·  Put a system in place for (1) rapidly reporting events to first responders and for  (2) monitoring the effects of short-term and long-term intervention. 

·  Shows which problems warrant further public health response or investigation.


LAHVA, Linked Animal Human Health Visual Analytics


  • Synthesize information and derive insight from massive, dynamic, ambiguous, and often conflicting data
  • Detect the expected and discover the unexpected
  • Provide timely, defensible, and understandable assessments
  • Communicate assessment effectively for action
  • Earlier detection of some environmental and emerging health conditions
  • Cross-species monitoring reduces false positive rate and could improve spread factor analysis
  • By monitoring pets, covers areas that may not have electronic human health surveillance

Monday, August 13, 2007

Fairburn Meeting

Good Evening Neighbor:

It was so wonderful to see so many come out tonight to express their concern regarding the Transfer Station proposed for the City of Fairburn.  It is evident that you all care about your city and want only the best environment for your family.  I really believe this can be achieved but it is imperative that the citizens stay in the process.  We have already seen this work with PSC and so you know it can work in this situation as well.  As I said in my former email, we must all think about the long term implications of our "trash".  We all create it and we must have an environmentally solid plan to dispose of it.  It will be vital that everyone return for the vote on August 27 at 7pm - same place - same channel.  

Also, please mark your calendar to be at our Task Force Meeting this Thursday night at 7pm at Bethany United Methodist.  The focus of the meeting will be on our media campaign.  We need your help - we must continue to make a difference in State Laws so that we can be assured that this toxic exposure never happens to us again or any other Georgia community.  Cathy Strong heads up this committee and looks forward to your input.

Once again, thanks for being a community that I am so proud to be a part of and one that I readily call home.

Your neighbor,


Constance Thomas Biemiller, Chairman
South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force

Friday, August 10, 2007

City of Fairburn Public Comment

Good Morning Neighbor:

As you all are aware, I am quite big on letting the Citizen's Voice be Heard and Monday Night is a prime opportunity for you to show your concern.  The Fairburn City Council wants to hear from the public with regard to bringing a Transfer Station into the City.  What is a transfer station?  Well this one will be a station that garbage trucks bring the trash from your house and many others to be sorted and washed down and then moved to other very large trucks and taken to various landfills.  I had the luxury of visiting one not long ago - it was a very busy station and boy did it stink!!  I had great concern for the people who live very close to the station  - one neighbor I spoke with says she cannot have guests over for dinner due to the foul odors because it comes through her air conditioning unit as well.  There are obviously no laws with regard as to how close a transfer station can be to a residence.  Also, the streets were very cracked and therefore caused major cracks in peoples driveways due to the heavy trucks going in and out.

In the big picture, we must all think about what to do with our trash!!  I think the City of Fairburn could be one of the first in Georgia to become an Urban Green Community and with both the citizens and elected officials coming together to think long-term there will be nothing but good to come of this.  Please take a moment and go to www.epa.gov/greenkit/intro1.htm and start thinking about how you want your community to look.

I look forward to seeing you Monday night at Fairburn City Hall at 7pm.

Your Neighbor,


Constance Thomas Biemiller, Chairman
South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force

Thursday, August 02, 2007

Task Force Rebuttal

Good Afternoon Neighbor:

The Task Force has now completed the Health Consultation Rebuttal and I will attach it below.  I cannot thank our Governing Board enough for the countless hours that they put into this document.  I feel so blessed to be called to serve among such wonderful souls!!  The Rebuttal was hand-delivered yesterday to Mr. Sanchez of the GA Department of Public Health.  This report also had attached your Personal Stories, Ongoing Health Reports and Petition Signatures.

I want to welcome the overwhelming number of people who have joined our email list - it is a pleasure to have you with us.  Thank you for taking your time to sign the petition and completing forms - it has not gone unnoticed.

I want to remind everyone of our very important Task Force Meeting this Thursday Aug. 2 at Bethany United Methodist Church - 7pm.  Please come and be involved - let your voice be heard!!

Your Neighbor,