Dear Editor: As I sit here in my home in Colbert, sheltering in place as deemed necessary by Governor Kemp, I have come to recognize a crossroads with respect to my safety.
You see, I’m a part of the at-risk population required to stay home, due to my rare and incurable lung disease. At the same time, I live approximately one mile from Colbert’s Georgia Renewable Power (GRP) biomass facility, which has been and is still burning creosote-treated railroad ties as a form of their fuel to generate power.
Ordinarily, I would be spared from the fine particulate matter generated by the production of this plant at least 10 hours of the day, five days a week. Now, staying in place in my home, I am exposed to these toxins 24/7, which begs the question of how safe it is for me to stay home in the first place. To my knowledge, there are no known filters which could prevent the fine particulate matter from entering my HVAC system, crawling its way through the ducts and into my dwelling. No amount of music can drown out the noise, and the thought of this plant’s potential impact on our water continues to give me pause. Now that the EPA has suspended enforcement of their own regulations, what does this mean for those of us who are subjected to the carcinogenic toxins emitted by GRP? Will GRP try to stay in line, even though the Georgia EPD violations suggest they may be ill-equipped to do so?
In weighing the risks and benefits of the scenario at hand, of course I remain in place as our nation pushes forward with its battle against the novel COVID-19 virus. However, it should be noted that my staying at home does not make me safe. It is my hope that our state senators, along with Governor Kemp, will acknowledge this sentiment with their support of HB 857 once the legislature is back in session.
Leigh Ann Jones