Ohio EPA asking for government intervention


BATH TOWNSHIP — The director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency has asked Attorney General Dave Yost to begin legal actions against the owners and operators of the controversial biodigester on Herr Road.

In a letter dated Aug. 3, Anne M. Vogel requested that Yost “initiate all necessary legal and/or equitable civil actions as may be deemed necessary and seek appropriate penalties against Renergy, Inc., Dovetail Energy, LLC, and/or any other appropriate parties for violations of ORC Chapters 3704 and 6111 and the administrative rules adopted thereunder associated with nuisance odor violations at the Dovetail Energy facility located at 1146 and/or 1156 Herr Road.”

“I respectfully request that this referral result in the filing of a civil complaint in the appropriate court if efforts on your part to resolve this matter through negotiation fail,” Vogel wrote. She also requested that any litigation efforts include any further violations that occur or are discovered.

Built in 2013, the biodigester uses a sealed anaerobic digestion tank to produce methane that is used to generate electricity.

The facility has been the source of nuisance odor complaints since 2015 and in 2019 citizens began reporting odors through the Smell My City app, which can record odors by way of location, intensity, description of smell, linked symptoms, as well as additional notes. Since residents began using the app, more than 8,000 nuisance reports have been made.

It has been the subject of two lawsuits in addition to complaints from residents.

In April 2022, a lawsuit filed by the State of Ohio against Renergy and Dovetail energy alleged that the two entities were allowing the organic waste processing facility on Herr Road to emit ammonia without a permit.

That case was settled with a consent order and final judgment entry giving Renergy Inc., and Dovetail Energy, LLC 60 days to submit a “Permit to Install and Operate” application for biodigester’s lagoon where digestate from the biodigester process is stored.

Shortly after the state lawsuit was filed, the City of Fairborn and Bath Township filed a federal lawsuit against Renergy and Dovetail and the Ohio and United States environmental protection agencies.

The lawsuit alleged that Renergy and Dovetail violated the federal Clean Air Act by allowing the biodigester to emit significant quantities of ammonia without applying for and obtaining an air pollution permit, without controlling the ammonia emissions with the best available technology, and without following the mandates of Ohio’s air toxics law. Ammonia is an air toxic contaminant in Ohio.

Grassroots movement Bath Biodigester Concerned Citizens, began working with OEPA and RAPCA since the Dovetail facility was built in 2013 and in a release regarding the recent EPA action said the odors “have forced property owners residents to cancel barbeques, forced shuttering of their homes, endured physical sickness such as nausea and vomiting, caused veterans to suffer flash backs to times they served in Iraq/Afghanistan near burn pits and explain to our visiting football team and fans why it smells so bad due to these obnoxious odors.”

Representatives from Renergy — which operates another biodigester on Morrow County — could not immediately be reached for comment.

Reach Scott Halasz at 937-502-4507.

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