08-08 High levels of ethylene oxide by census tracts.jpg

This map shows the two Cobb and four Fulton county census tracts with some of the highest levels of the carcinogen ethylene oxide in Georgia based on EPA data collected by state Sen. Jen Jordan. The Smyrna Sterigenics plant, which uses ethylene oxide to sterilize medial equipment, is located in Cobb census tract 312.05, shown in this map. Here are the levels of ethylene oxide for each of the tracts in micrograms per cubic meter: Census Tract 312.05 (Cobb) — 0.028 Census Tract 89.03 (Fulton) — 0.021 Census Tract 88 (Fulton) — 0.017 Census Tract 97 (Fulton) — 0.014 Census Tract 89.04 (Fulton) — 0.013 Census Tract 312.12 (Cobb) — 0.011

MARIETTA — Cobb commissioners could greenlight Tuesday more than $79,000 worth of independent air testing around a Smyrna-area plant being blamed for high levels of cancer-causing emissions.

The county is seeking to partner with the City of Smyrna to test levels of ethylene oxide around the Sterigenics facility at 2973 Industrial Court in Smyrna. Commissioners will vote on a proposal from independent air testing firm GHD Services Inc., which did the testing of ethylene oxide around a Sterigenics facility in Illinois.

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.

GHD is estimating a $79,200 cost to collect across indoor and outdoor locations in Smyrna and Cobb 15 air samples during a two-week period. The two local governments would split the cost of the contract.

“The firm that we’re proposing here is going to go and actually do the air sampling themselves, and come back and tell us what the numbers are,” Cobb Commissioner Bob Ott said Monday. “It’s actually intentionally the same firm that did Illinois because we didn’t want to give the public the perception that we picked somebody else so we got different numbers, so we wanted to use the same firm, doing the same process that was done in Illinois so that kind of removed a variable from the equation.”

But the proposal from GHD also includes a cost estimate of $133,700 for doubling the number of samples, from 15 to 30, should the City of Atlanta join into the partnership with the two local governments and seek testing within its borders. If Atlanta were to join, the price tag would be split three ways, with each government paying just over $44,500, Ott said.

The county is set to use undesignated contingency to cover its expenses related to the testing, County Manager Rob Hosack said.

Commissioners’ vote on air testing will not be the county’s last action regarding the Sterigenics issue, as it will host at 7 p.m. Aug. 19 a meeting 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.

The Cobb Board of Commissioners meets at 9 a.m. Tuesday in the Cobb Government Building.

Follow Jon Gargis on Twitter at twitter.com/JonGargis.

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