As I sit here in my Colbert home, sheltering in place, I have come to recognize a crossroads in my safety. 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 GRP biomass facility, which has been and is still burning creosote-treated railroad ties as fuel to generate power. (Notably, this plant is about 11 miles from the Arch.)
Ordinarily, I would be spared from the fine particulate matter generated by this plant for 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 that could prevent the fine particulate matter from entering my HVAC system, crawling through the ducts and penetrating 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.
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 coronavirus. However, it should be noted that staying at home does not make me safe. It is my hope that our state senators, along with Gov. Brian Kemp, will acknowledge this predicament by supporting House Bill 857 once the legislature is back in session. As neighbors and friends, I further hope Athenians will continue with their support of the bill as well.