Monday, September 04, 2006

Is this the best we can expect?

New blog, old topic. We in Georiga have been dealing with a problem caused by the Philip Services Corporation in Fairburn. The only reason anyone became aware of a problem at this waste treatment plant was because one of the toxins had mercaptan in it. Propyl mercaptan smells. Bad. They use it in tiny, tiny amounts in natrual gas to give it an odor. They put it in pesticides and other similar things to give them a smell.

Smells like rotton onions.

The odor wafted across a fairly large area of South Fulton and Fayette counties. People started raising a ruckus. Finally, and I do mean FINALLY, enough people raised enough of a stink to bring in the EPD, various health agencies and other governmental agencies.

I've been writing about this issue in my Fayette Life blog, but decided to set up a new one just so I could keep the negative stuff out of that blog (it's supposed to be a happy blog ;-) Anyway, if you'd like to read more about the issue, visit and click on Fayette Life in the far right column, visit and click on issues, or go to I'm not going to bore you with all the background since you can go to those excellent sources and read to your hearts content.

Now that we've been dealing with this issue for a while and I've had a chance to watch the government's reaction, I've realized we are in big trouble if we're hit with a serious problem (like a pandemic, a terror action, or some other catastrophic event of similar magnitude).

Our government is so bogged down with rules they can't act. No one is willing to take any initiative. The agencies can't talk to each other. The EPD can't act based on a recommendation from Public Health. The EPD can't do testing unless they catch an agency in the act almost.

I see this huge, huge overblown bunch of agencies that SHOULD be able to react, but their bloated and lethargic and crippled by their own actions. Inefficient. Scared almost.

I also wonder at a system where the EPD is regulating a company they use, or at least my understanding is that they use the Philip Services Corporation to get rid of toxins. The EPD didn't notice that Philip hadn't turned in reports, required reports, for TWO years... why? I can see missing one month, one report, but two entire years?

If they find a problem now at Philip, who looks bad? They do. Is there any incentive for them to FIND a problem? What happens if they do find a problem? They shut them down? Nah, they simply fine them.

That's going to hurt. The EPD levied the largest fine ever in the history of their existance ($100,000). I've been out wandering around the Internet and see where the EPA fined them one MILLION. When you're dealing with a Goliath like PSC, what good does it do to fine them?

Do the citizens who are dealing with illnesses resulting from the toxins released from PSC benefit from the fine. Nope. The system puts the money into a pot for cleaning up toxic messes.

Seems like the punishment should match the "crime.' Fix those who were affected by the mercaptan, MOCAP, ethoprop dumped into the air, or the dirt, and/or the water. What you want to bet that the company would be willing to spend more in litigation than the cost of everyone's doctors bills combined? Can't let those stock prices fall. Can't let the pubic lose confidence. Can't lose those lucrative contracts. Admit you goofed and the dominos start to fall.

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