In June, 2006, chemicals from a plant owned by Philip Services Corp., where wastewater was treated and sent to Fulton County, Georgia, began causing a chemical stench. About 2,000 residents claimed the odor and chemicals caused health problems and made their lives unbearable. At issue were water shipments from Alabama containing the agricultural pesticide ethoprop and an odorizer additive called propyl mercaptan. Ethoprop, also known as Mocap, is lethal to humans and wildlife in large quantities and is a known human carcinogen. The propyl mercaptan, commonly added to pesticides and natural gas as a warning agent, can cause headaches, nausea, dizziness and skin irritation.
Texas-based Philip Services has agreed to a $4 million settlement which is scheduled to be finalized in April. Despite the settlement, many of those who live closest to the plant are not satisfied. Some say the chemicals that caused the smell also caused serious health problems that have been either ignored or covered up by local, stateand federal officials. Many residents want the plant shut down. The plant is being blamed for the rapid deterioration in the health of residents. Many believe they are being poisoned, according to media accounts. However, state and federal health officials have reported that the odor was not caused by hazardous levels of the chemicals. That report was released in March.
In late June 2006, Philip Services received more than 30 shipments of waste water for treatment from Alabama. The waste water contained the ethoprop and propyl mercaptan. On June 29th, PSC received another four shipments that it rejected after tests showed high concentrations of the chemicals. By then, the noxious onion aroma was already in the air of this residential area. Some residents said they sent their children away for the summer, because they believed the chemicals could harm them. Others said they were afraid to mow their lawns and to engage in outside activities. County officials investigated.
Philip Services withdrew its request for a new discharge permit after Fulton County announced it would not renew the permit. Philip Services also agreed not to seek a discharge permit for six years. There have been other changes at the plant. For example, chemicals are no longer treated at the plant. Philip Services, under the guidance of the Georgia Environmental Protection Division, is closing the pit where substances like restaurant grease are converted into solids.
Source: Atlanta Journal Constitution
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