BATH TOWNSHIP — Bath Township residents Joe Batman and Kassie Lester were on hand at the Feb. 7 township meeting to present a brief report about an Ohio Environmental Protection Agency public information hearing they and other Bath Township residents recently attended.
Batman, who resides on North Enon Road, told township trustees that more than 200 citizens, including a number of government officials, packed the cafeteria at Greenon Junior/Senior High School for the Feb. 1 public meeting. Dozens of people voiced their opposition to a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System permit application that Enon Sand and Gravel Company submitted to the Ohio EPA last October. If approved, the permit would allow the company’s future limestone mining operations at 4100 Fairfield Pike to discharge an average of 720,000 gallons of treated wastewater per day into a tributary of Mud Run and the Mad River watershed.
According to the company’s permit application, the discharged wastewater would consist of ground water, storm water, and water used to wash the extracted limestone. The company proposes sending the wastewater to a settling basin for treatment before discharging it into an unnamed tributary of Mud Run.
Batman noted that representatives from the Ohio EPA supplied only one microphone for elected officials and residents to use during the meeting, and many citizens in the back of the cafeteria had to relay their questions and concerns to individuals sitting in the front of the room. He also pointed out that Mad River Township Trustee Kathy Estep received a big applause from the crowd after reading a long statement on behalf of all the residents in the community with the support from township Trustees Joe Catanzaro and Robert McClure Jr.
“The crust of the matter was that the people were not happy with the way the EPA ran the meeting,” Batman said. “An EPA representative tried to stop Mrs. Estep from finishing her statement and attempted to grab the mic away from her.”
Lester, who lives on Herr Road, said numerous citizens expressed their fears about the significant impact the mining operations would have on their property values, human health, and the local environment, especially the quality of water in local waterways. She also concurred with Batman regarding how the EPA conducted the public hearing.
“The public hearing was a train wreck. The EPA was not equipped to handle the amount of people who attended the hearing,” Lester said.
When reviewing the permit application, the Ohio EPA will consider technical, environmental, economic and social aspects of the project, as well as the citizens’ comments and statements during the testimony portion of the public hearing. If the Ohio EPA grants permission for the mining company to move forward with a draft permit, Batman said a second public hearing would take place to collect community reaction and feedback.
In July 2017, the Ohio Department of Natural Resources granted Enon Sand & Gravel mining permits for the proposed Fairfield Pike mining operations despite the protests and outcries of residents and government officials in both Clark and Greene Counties.
The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet again in regular session, open to the public, 7 p.m. Wednesday, Feb. 21. All regular township sessions are held at the township office, 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.