Comments on Public Health
Risks Related to the |
Proposed Asphalt Plant in the City of Brunswick
Executive Director Center for a Sustainable Coast
My name is David
Kyler. I represent the Center for a Sustainable Coast, a non-profit
membership organization established in 1997 to represent the public
interest in issues related to coastal Georgia's growth, economy, and
environment. On behalf of our board, advisors, and members, I wish to
advise the city about public health risks associated with the proposed
asphalt plant that raise serious questions which must be addressed.
These questions strongly suggest the need to find a more acceptable
location for the proposed facility, away from any residential area.
Operation of the asphalt plant will produce substantial diesel truck
traffic, estimated to be at least scores if not hundreds of arrivals and
departures per day at the plant site. Cumulatively, especially at peak
periods, due to the number of trucks and the length of time they will
have engines idling while at the site, there is likely to be a harmful
level of diesel exhaust released into the air in the plant vicinity.
This burden could prove to be an unacceptable health risk to those
living in the area, with serious short- and long-term implications for
families, especially children and the elderly.
Based on extensive study, EPA has listed diesel exhaust as a carcinogen,
as well as a serious cause of respiratory illness. In an EPA report
giving the relative health risk of diesel soot and several of its most
lethal components, Glynn County is among the top 40% of counties at risk
in Georgia, based on average particulate density in the air. We know
that concentrations of critical particulates are much higher in some
areas of Glynn County than others, based on personal observation of
industrial emissions, paralleled by health records of residents living
in both the City of Brunswick and in certain areas of unincorporated
Glynn County. The severity and frequency of respiratory illnesses in
the Brunswick area, including asthma among children, indicate adverse
consequences of already existing air quality problems in the community
that the proposed plant would further compound.
Given average ranking of local health risks linked to diesel soot and
its constituents, further amplified by the knowledge that these average
ratings are greatly exceeded in certain places within the city and
county, any further loading of the community's air with these
particulates must be carefully evaluated prior to approval of activities
that would generate them. While the state does have limited regulatory
authority over some of these air emissions, there are no standards nor
regulations in Georgia to prevent excessive, cumulative air quality
degradation caused by site-specific pollutants emitted by a multitude of
diesel-burning trucks and possibly other heavy equipment related to the
proposed asphalt plant operation.
Until these effects are further studied, evaluated, and, as necessary,
appropriately regulated, we strongly advise against approval of this
plant in, or nearby, any areas occupied by residents, school children,
or other vulnerable groups.
To be sustainable, human activities must use resources responsibly, in
ways that will ensure that future generations can also benefit from
nature's bounty, while leading healthful, productive lives. Actions in
the present that impose avoidable harm or unjustified risk on this and
future generations of our citizens are not sustainable, and cannot be
responsibly approved by public officials who are obligated to protect
the public interest.
I urge you to carefully consider these comments in reaching a decision
to prevent approval of the proposed asphalt plant, at least until these
crucial health questions can be reliably answered by qualified,
objective experts. The public's welfare and living environment depend
on your insight and accountability.