A small nonprofit in Georgia has uncovered a shocking injustice facing a tiny town in the south of the state. Not only is pollution from several industrial facilities destroying the environment, but the mostly Black and brown community members are being diagnosed with a variety of illnesses at alarming rates.
Adel is a small rural town in Cook County, Georgia. It’s considered an “environmental justice community,” meaning that most of the residents are not white, the poverty rate is higher than the state average, and residents cumulatively face health disparities as a result.
Georgia Conservation Voters released a documentary Friday chronicling the environmental issues poisoning Adel’s residents and the local activists trying to stop the latest company targeting the town: Renewable Biomass Group, a wood pellet plant manufacturing for overseas export.
Wood pellet plants are known to be bio-hazardous, generating dust and pollution and producing 40% to 50% more CO2 than coal—the dirtiest fuel.
Pollution from the plants emits dust so tiny it can be inhaled into the lungs and go directly to the bloodstream. The toxins can lead to low birth weight, COPD, heart disease, preterm birth, and different kinds of cancer. Adel is downwind of the site, and would be impacted by the pollution from the plant.
But despite all of the health and environmental concerns, the Adel City Council planned to vote on bringing the plant to the city. They argue that the plants provide jobs—the usual line given when industries pay off the local lawmakers.
The plant had to apply to the Georgia Environmental Division for a “Clean Air” permit in order to build, giving activists such as Dr. Treva Gear, the founder of Concerned Citizens of Cook County and a local Adel social activist, time to lead the charge and prevent the plant from moving in.
Between the (now abandoned) Del-Cook Lumber Yard, the Advanced Cylinder & Tank, the Bitcoin Mining Operation, and the proposed wood pellet plant, Adel residents have been surrounded by toxic air, causing many to suffer from health issues such as kidney failure and cancer.
The documentary interviews one resident who says the now-abandoned Del-Cook Lumber Yard left dozens of Adel residents fighting cancer diagnoses; nearly 75% to 80% of residents on one street alone had cancer.
In fact, even after the lumber plant’s closure, the land is considered to be so toxic that no housing can be built on it. But despite that, there’s a low-income housing project directly across the street.
In addition to the proposed wood pellet plant and the abandoned lumber yard sits Advanced Cylinder & Tank company, zoned as a “suburban residential” area.
Adel citizens say the smell is so “intense” that families refuse to allow their children to play outside.
The Bitcoin Blockstream plant runs fans 24/7 that are so loud residents say it’s a form of “violence” for noise ordinances.
Since filming the documentary, another Biomass company has proposed a new wood pellet facility in Adel that is larger than Renewable Biomass Group’s proposed facility.
If you want to help the citizens of Adel, you can sign this petition to demand the EPA follow its own rules and right the wrongs of this situation.