Health, Local

Frustrated Residents, Seeking Answers, Walk Out Of Cobb Town Hall On Ethylene Oxide

A couple sits near the back of the Cobb Civic Center on Monday night. “Registered bidders” heckled whoever was on stage with orange signs, urging them to “Say No to ETO.” EtO is the chemical acronym for ethylene oxide.
A couple sits near the back of the Cobb Civic Center on Monday night. “Registered bidders” heckled whoever was on stage with orange signs, urging them to “Say No to ETO.” EtO is the chemical acronym for ethylene oxide.
Credit Jim Burress / WABE

About 1,000 concerned residents gathered at the Cobb Civic Center on Monday night, hoping they’d learn more about a toxic chemical linked to increased cancer risk in the area.

Instead, what began as a standing-room-only crowd for the town hall on ethylene oxide quickly thinned as pockets of people walked out in frustration.

More than 1,000 people started out in the crowd Monday night. Two hours in, seating was abundant. (Jim Burress/WABE)

It wasn’t that scientists with the U.S. Environmental Protection Division and Georgia’s equivalent, the state Environmental Protection Division, didn’t have much to say. They did.

In fact, they spoke about ethylene oxide for the better part of two hours.

But those in the audience either didn’t understand the sometimes jargon-laden presentations or they did and simply weren’t interested in hearing more.

“I just got up and walked out,” said Sue Levine of Smyrna.

“They definitely weren’t trustworthy people,” she added.

Sue Levine says she’s excited to see so many come out to support the movement seeking to close down Smyrna’s Sterigenics facility. (Jim Burress/WABE)

Democratic State Sen. Jen Jordan, whose district includes the area, shared in the anger.

“Everybody is on notice that we’re not just going to sit back and be spoon-fed information and be expected just to take it,” Jordan said emphatically.

She said Sterigenics needs to close up shop until it can prove its functional without having to discharge ethylene oxide in the process. She says Democrats have already asked the governor once but Gov. Brian Kemp has not acted.