Saturday (Oct. 21st) the South Fulton / Fayette Community Task Force held a Rally in Tyrone to continue to highlight problems with the Philips Services plant on the border of Fayette County.
There were a LOT of elected officials (and candidates) at the rally. Some spoke, most spoke. Some, like Commissioner Bill Edwards, Fulton County, came with cameras and video crews. Most came alone or with their spouse. All seemed to know the issue and all were definitely behind closing the plant. No waffling.
The turn out was decent. Many came for a short period, signed the petition, talked and left. Most of the elected officials and candidates were there for the duration.
One thing that continues to bother me is that the problem is continuing to be referred to as the "onion odor" problem. Yes, there is an odor, but it's not just a smell. It's chemicals. It's toxic waste. Instead of "onion," if someone had labeled it a "toxic" smell or a "chemical" smell then maybe more folks in the area would be concerned.
Don't get me wrong, there is a lot of concern. But in many people's minds "onion" is not bad. It just smells and maybe makes your eyes water. Unfortunately, this is more than a smell, it's more than bad onions.
We have absolutely no real true idea of what we've been breathing for over 15 years. We have no idea what has been dumped in our water supply. We have no idea what has leached into our ground waters. The Philip Services plant did not turn in ANY of the required required reports to the agency that was tasked with regulating their actions. The EPD not once (based on what I've read) asked for the reports.
The haphazard records that ARE available are worthless if you're trying to find out what Philip (and the prior owner of the plant) were destroying. Toxins from across the country were shipped past other waste treatment plants to Fairburn. Why? We don't know why and may never know why, but it raises questions. Was it because no one was watching the plant? They had no oversight so it was chosen to get rid of the questionable toxins that other states wouldn't allow?
I hope the Community Task Force and our elected officials will continue to yell and will do everything in their power to close this plant. I'll hate it for the people who work at the plant - they'll probably lose their long-term jobs or have to move. But I think this is a case where the greater good should prevail. Besides, maybe those workers will opt to get a job in a healthier environment and live long, healthy lives.