BATH TOWNSHIP — A growing number of Bath Township residents have said they are appealing a July 19 decision by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) that has paved the way for Dovetail Energy LLC to build two biosolids storage ponds near residential housing in the township.
According to the EPA’s issued permit-to-install, the ponds will be constructed on 65.9 acres of farmland located east of Byron Road and adjacent to the company’s anaerobic digestion facility at 1156 Herr Road. Combined, the ponds will have the capacity to store up to 32 million gallons of Class B biosolids until they can be land applied on Ohio EPA-approved agricultural fields.
“As is common with most initial applications, Ohio EPA had questions and feedback for the company on design and other engineering considerations. The final permit met Ohio EPA’s requirements,” stated James Lee, media relations manager for the Ohio EPA.
During the July 31 Bath Township meeting, residents Kassie Lester and Jacob and Sarah Fulton told township trustees that they would be filing appeals with the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC) before the Aug. 19 deadline. Following the meeting, township resident Benjamin (Matt) Jones said he would be appealing the EPA’s decision as well.
Jacob Fulton, whose property borders the proposed site of the biosolids storage ponds, pointed out to township trustees that he and his family would be faced with significant financial ramifications if the ponds are built just 200 meters away from his house.
“You can call it a green way to deal with waste, but it is a nuisance when it is all said and done. So, what is the company going to do with 32 million gallons of waste? There is not enough farmland around here to apply that much waste,” Fulton said. “On top of that, what about the horrible odor that will come? These ponds will only compound the odor problem that already exists. There is no logical reason to what this company is doing.”
Several township residents, who were first-time attendees to a Bath Township meeting, also expressed their mounting concerns about the proposed site of the biosolids storage ponds, including the threat of groundwater contamination. Gail Smith, who resides on Waterford Boulevard in the Waterford Landing subdivision, unleashed her feelings on township trustees.
“If these ponds go in, my neighborhood will become a blighted area. When we have to move because we cannot stand the smell anymore, we will not get any money for our homes. You will have blighted a 306-house neighborhood that pays you taxes,” Smith said. “There are a lot of young, hardworking people who have moved into this neighborhood, and they have put every dime they had into their homes. I bought in Fairborn because I thought it was such a cute community, and I love my neighbors and my home. This was supposed to be my retirement home, but I didn’t know that sludge ponds would be built less than a mile from my house.”
One woman who said she lives in Waterford Landing, told township trustees that she was unable to run outside during certain times of the day because of the overwhelming foul odor emanating from the biodigester facility. She asked Township Trustee Tom Pitstick, who leases the land to Dovetail Energy, if there was anything the company could do to reduce or eliminate the odor. He told her that the increase in odor at certain times could be attributed to atmospheric conditions, which the company could not control.
Township Trustee Steve Ross told residents that he was against the proposed location of the two biosolids storage ponds and was disappointed with the EPA’s decision to issue a permit-to-install to Dovetail Energy LLC.
“My issue is extreme frustration. That is my personal posture,” Ross said. “I do not want these ponds.”
Sarah Fulton also urged township residents, who would be directly impacted by the construction of the ponds, to lodge an appeal of the Ohio EPA’s decision. She noted that there is a $70 filing fee. However, ERAC may reduce the filing fee in cases of extreme hardship.
“The more appeals filed, the more attention is given to this issue. All the single appeals are compiled and placed into one case. It is better for all of us to file than just a few because the members of the commission have to review each appeal,” Fulton said. “We want to make sure that as much paperwork is generated as possible to slow down this process. Everyone needs to reach out to his or her neighbors and move on this because the filing deadline is Aug. 19.”
Pitstick said he had no problem with township residents appealing the EPA’s decision.
“I am indifferent to the ponds. I think they will work. I think they will make the odor problem better. However, my preference would have been that the company had gone a different route, but I have no control of that,” Pitstick said. “I have no problem with you trying to stop it, but I am limited on what I can do.”
The Bath Township Board of Trustees will meet in special session at 7 p.m. Tuesday, Aug. 13 at the township office, 1006 Yellow Springs-Fairfield Road. At that time, the township trustees will consider lodging an appeal of the Ohio EPA’s decision. Township Trustee Tom Pitstick has recused himself from this vote. This meeting is open to the public.
Anyone considering filing an appeal can contact the ERAC at 614-466-8950 for more information.
Linda Collins is a freelance writer for Greene County News.