New agreement reached to reduce toxic emissions

The battle for clean air in two Metro Atlanta communities took some major steps today and tonight.

Governor Brian Kemp met with the Sterigenics Plant in Smryna Tuesday where officials there voluntarily agreed to reduce its Ethylene Oxide emissions reduced .

And tonight he's calling on the BD plant in Covington to do the same.

Meanwhile concerns over EtO emissions from the plant took center stage at a community meeting attended by hundreds.

At the podium in front of an overflow crowd Jason McCarthy with ‘Say no to ETO'  spoke of a broken trust when it comes to the potentially cancer causing Ethylene Oxide being emitted from the BD plant nearby.

"The trust has been broken it needs to be repaired.We need independent testing to begin to repair the trust that is broken, thank you," said McCarthy in front of an overflow crowd at the historic Newton County Courthouse.

Now all eyes are on independent testing approved by the city of Covington of EtO emissions around the BD plant.

Devices that look like a shiny silver globe known as Summa canisters will be placed in strategic locations to grab air samples then have them analyzed for EtO levels. 

"The air sampling is going to be over a seven day period of time. We're looking at 10 different canisters there will be four around Bard and also some placed within our community," said Covington Mayor Ronnie Johnston. 

The crowd also learned BD is working with EPD in setting emission limits, tracking those limits and inspecting the facility and testing their equipment.

But the question of shutting down the plant had no easy fix because EtO emissions from BD are within acceptable standards.

Doctor Ken Mitchell, with the EPA Air and Radiation Division in Atlanta, told the crowd the BD plant is within acceptable guidelines.

"They fall within the that yard stick of acceptability that the law requires us to use," said Dr. Mitchell.

Governor Kemp tweeted he appreciates the Smryna facility Sterigenics voluntarily reducing EtO emissions and called on BD to do the same.

Others are calling on the Governor to shut down the plant himself but the mayor here says wait for the test results.

"We do that test if it comes back high I'll be the first one to shut it down. I'll be the first one in picket line because I do live here," said Mayor Johnston.