SNELLVILLE - On Monday, City Manager Russell Treadway reported to Mayor Jerry Oberholtzer and city council members he has found conflicting research regarding the environmental impact of crematory exhaust.
Treadway was directed two weeks ago by the Snellville City Council to research the viability of performing an environmental impact study on potential exhaust from the controversial crematory adjacent to the Abington subdivision.
While Treadway's instructions were to report his findings to the mayor and council at the Aug. 25 City Council meeting, councilwoman Kelly Kautz said Monday's update was critical.
According to Treadway, "My conclusion so far is that it's been difficult to find any study exactly on point with our crematory issue here." The city manager found research indicating the percentage of mercury in the air from crematory exhaust is 0 percent, while a Swedish study indicates the amount is as much as 20.7 percent. Based on the conflicting data Treadway has turned up, he proposed collecting all the research data he discovers by Aug. 25 and turning over the material to the panel with an "executive summary" of the findings.
Kautz said she, too, was surprised and a little dismayed at the differing conclusions the research draws.
"I agree with Mr. Treadway that the data is inconclusive, but I think we do know some things. I have found that other cities, counties and boroughs have conducted their own research," Kautz said. The councilwoman then named several experts - chemists, environmental experts, a congressman, even the infamous Ray Marsh's (Tri-State Crematory) defense attorney - who said they would be happy to address the council in person if the city would pay their travel expenses.
"Despite what some people say, there is no doubt that mercury is toxic," Kautz said. "The bottom line is that there is the potential" for mercury emissions. Kautz added that the conflicting studies she and Treadway found reminded her of the tobacco conundrum years ago. For every study that indicted tobacco and the industry for countless deaths and addictions, the tobacco industry produced one that contradicted those findings.
In the event the crematory opens as planned and on schedule, Kautz suggested the city owes it to its residents to at least regulate the operation. Other municipalities, namely in Pennsylvania, have done so.
Councilman Robert Jenkins said that regulation is not the answer at all, but he did favor hearing what Kautz's experts have to say.
"We need to have as many true facts on mercury or anything else involved here, but this is just not the location for a crematory," Jenkins said. The capacity audience exploded with applause at that statement.
"I wish the mayor wouldn't refer to these studies as 'junk science.' Everybody's taking this pretty seriously."
Treadway will report back to the mayor and council Aug. 25, at the regularly scheduled public hearing and City Council meeting.
Police department needs assessment presented
An architect from Pieper, O'Brien and Herr Architects presented the results of their needs assessment survey of the Snellville Police Department on Monday night.
The results of the survey indicate a 31,700-square-foot, two-story facility is necessary. The planned facility will require its own chiller plant, both a physical and a data connection to City Hall, and a parking facility.
The new public safety building, with a proposed location at the corner of Clower Street and Wisteria Drive, will cost approximately $9 million, or about $300 per square foot.