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.
While we learned a great deal about EtO, it's health impacts, and how it moves through our air, we also found state laws and agencies less than well-prepared to deal with the situation. Thankfully, a number of Senators and Representatives in the Georgia State Legislature are committed to changing that and protecting the health of Georgians.
Earlier this month, the Covington City Council unanimously passed a resolution supporting legislation introduced during the current session. As an organization committed to promoting sustainable approaches and environmental health, the Sustainable Newton Board of Directors also supports these efforts to tighten reporting requirements for EtO releases and creating a state task force to further study EtO and make appropriate recommendations for legislative changes and regulatory oversight. We urge our Newton County Legislative Delegation to support these and similar measures and encourage all Newton County residents to follow closely and contact their representatives regarding the following legislation:
As of this writing, both items remain with the House Natural Resources and Environment Committee and are thus subject to amendment before being voted to the House floor for consideration. We will continue to monitor these and other legislation, but we encourage all Newton County citizens to likewise follow this progress and to reach out to your Senator and Representative to express your concerns and to urge their general support for measures to promote air quality and public health.
Use this site to find your legislators in the Georgia House and Senate.