By the Sustainable Newton Board of Directors
We added a new word to our vocabulary in 2019 -- more accurately, an acronym. That acronym was "EtO," short for ethylene oxide.
This was an unfamiliar term for nearly everyone in Newton County, but news coverage of releases of this known carcinogen from the Becton Dickinson (BD) facility in Covington soon had everyone talking and local governments pressed to act. In October, we commended the Covington Mayor and City Council for their response to the situation.
Much has happened since, with BD eventually resuming operations at their Industrial Boulevard facility with new air quality testing in place. However, in late December, BD was again cited by the Georgia Environmental Protection Division (EPD) for not reporting the existence and release of EtO at a warehouse in Covington's Lochridge Business Park.
Phrases like "climate crisis" and "tipping point" are scientifically sound descriptions of our current moment. But, such talk can also overwhelm us and lead to despair. It's tough to muster an appropriate sense of urgency and yet still maintain hope.
We founded Sustainable Newton determined to reject helplessness and convinced individual actions matter immensely, as we've stated elsewhere on this website. As board members, we've been sharing personal resolutions for 2020 this week. We're not asking you to emulate us, but we do hope we've encouraged you to find your own ways to make a difference. Happy New Year!
By Maurice Carter, Sustainable Newton President
My resolutions for the new year focus on two areas: food and transportation. The first is a common theme for nearly everyone come January 1. The latter carries over something I started this year. Let's tackle that one first...
Transportation: More Miles and Smiles per Gallon
In mid-December, circumstances put me in the market for a new car for the first time in 22 years. I was keenly interested in an all-electric vehicle (EV) to cut my carbon emissions to zero, so I talked with friends who'd made the transition with great results. But, I wasn't sure I could live within the mileage range most EVs provide between charges. With more time to investigate, I'm confident we could have made it work. But, needing a new car quickly, I compromised by choosing a hybrid.
By Theodosia Wade, Sustainable Newton Vice President
I am so proud of our community! Monday night’s meeting of the Covington City Council was a great example of how government should work for and with the people. Because Mayor Ronnie Johnston and the city council pursued independent ethylene oxide (EtO) air testing in our community, we could get facts without relying on self-reported data from Becton Dickinson (BD). The test results came back showing EtO levels much higher than that deemed safe by the US Environmental Protection Agency (EPA). So, once again, the mayor and council stepped up and made the difficult decision to ask BD to temporarily cease operations.