A massive public protest has erupted over two suburban Atlanta plants spewing the cancer-causing chemical ethylene oxide into the air.
Galvanized by a report by the online news sites Georgia Health News and WebMD, residents near the Sterigenics plant in Smyrna and the BD plant in Covington packed two public meetings this week and demanded action.
Business-friendly Gov. Brian Kemp moved to halt the companies' toxic releases, while Democratic legislators and local government officials called for the plants to be shut down until further tests can be done.
Founded by my former Atlanta Journal-Constitution colleague Andy Miller, Georgia Health News has been an invaluable source of medical and environmental information for a number of years. It's a pioneering model for nonprofit online news.
The Georgia Health News' success gives hope that nonprofit online news sites can fill the gap in coverage left by the decline in daily newspapers across the nation.
As the public concern ballooned over the ethylene oxide emissions, I wondered what other toxic chemicals stew in Atlanta's air, emitted by vehicles and businesses. Carbon emissions keep rising as climate change advances locally, nationally and globally.
The same level of public outrage over the ethylene oxide releases is required to reduce carbon emissions and stop the worst effects of climate change. So far, most residents in Atlanta and elsewhere have ignored climate change's threat.