Monday, May 11, 2009

Task Foce Response in Rockmart

Good Morning Neighbor:

Please see my letter to the various agencies and political figures with regard to last week's event.

Your neighbor,


Task Foce Response in Rockmart

On May 8, 2009 a team from the South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force traveled to the Rockmart area to investigate the "onion/garlic smell" that resulted in the calls to the Emergency Management Agency due to illness.  We went directly to the Polk County EMA office in Cedartown to find out the exact locations of smell and illness as well as to educate the EMA about our experience and left research materials with them for future use if needed.  The EMA plans to use the exposure form and we encouraged them to begin plotting illness on a map.   So far on this particular day,  there were no calls regarding odor or illness.  

The EMA had no idea that the EPD had been out to the area the day before.  We were shocked to learn that there had been no cross communication.  In order for the EPD (Environmental Protection Division) to truly investigate, there would need to be a call to this agency to gather all reports but this did not occur.  The report we received from the EPD is cited below - a random smell test appeared to be used.  Also, the EPD did not state if they asked for any records from the Rockmart Waste Water Treatment Plant as to what had been treated over the three day period.

As I said in my previous email - in order to truly protect our communities, the agency lines must be blurred and begin to work as a team to oversee all toxic events that take place.  Didn't we learn anything from Katrina?

I would also like to make another statement with regard to the use of proper testing equipment in the State of Georgia.  The reason why Georgia can be inundated with toxic pesticide dumping from other states is the following:

a.  The State of Georgia does not recognize pesticides as a toxic waste.   Therefore, we have extremely lax laws around pesticide containment and these laws were even further relaxed in May of 2006 just before the event in our area occurred.  

b.  The State of Georgia has no proper testing equipment for the testing of toxicity of pesticides that are being emitted into the air, soil or water.  It appears we are also willing to put our heads in the sand and never know what harm these toxins are bringing to our citizens.

After visiting the exposed area, the Task Force is temporarily concluding that the toxins were dumped in the Rockmart Landfill and covered over enough within a three day period to contain the odor.  We will encourage the Polk County EMA to ask for landfill records of dumping during that period to see if it correlates with our conclusion.  

We have yet to receive any communication from the GA Department of Health (an extension of the ATSDR) regarding this matter.

I am sure that our Task Force is seen as a thorn in the side of our government agencies - however - I can assure you that we only want the best for Georgia citizens and want our tax payer funded agencies to exceed the highest standards of protection.  We will do all we can to help and truly be a part of the solution!!

Connie Thomas Biemiller, Chair
South Fulton and Fayette Community Task Force

Dear Ms. Biemiller,
After our discussion yesterday, I sent an inspector to the Rockmart Waste Water Treatment Plant (WWTP). This complaint was entered into the Complaint Tracking System as CTS #57719. The inspector did not detect any odors of onion or garlic.  When he drove by Tip Top Poultry there was a slight odor but not the one described.  He also noticed the fields adjacent to the plant had been recently cut. Finally he conducted an inspection of the WWTP, but did not find any problems. If you have any questions please contact Russell Nix at the EPD Mountain District Office at 770-387-4900.
Jim Ussery

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