BATH TOWNSHIP — Renergy, Inc. announced last week that it will stop accepting municipal solid waste at its Dovetail biodigester facility in Bath Township.
The company will no longer be processing the waste beginning in October of this year, and will instead focus on creating renewable energy from farm waste and food waste from Ohio manufacturers, according to an official statement from Renergy.
Renergy’s biodigesters operate by placing organic material in large tanks, where it is broken down and turned into nutrient-rich fertilizer and methane gas. The gas is collected and used to produce energy for surrounding homes, in a system designed to be closed and sustainable.
“Every emission is captured, and used to power the local grid,” Renergy Chief Operating Officer Cari Oberfield said. “The fertilizer goes to local farms.”
Normally, municipal waste accounts for 20 percent of the material processed at the Dovetail plant. Seventy percent is food waste, and the rest is manure. Currently, municipal waste at Dovetail only accounts for 10 percent or less of its processing, as the company phases out its use of the biosolids.
Oberfield said this move is an attempt to foster goodwill between the company and the surrounding communities. Last week, protesters gathered outside the Bath Township meeting hall to protest the continued use of the biosolid processing facilities.
“This is a concern that we’re removing,” Oberfield said. “People are concerned about what’s happening in their neighborhood, and we want to do everything that’s right for the neighbors and for the community.”
Residents’ complaints included the smell that they said drifts into Fairborn and Bath Township housing subdivisions, what they described as respiratory and gastrointestinal issues, as well as zoning violations presented to the Bath Township Board of Trustees last year. Protesters at the Bath Township meeting also voiced their frustrations about the lack of transparency between the trustees and the people.
Counterprotesters in support of the biodigester also gathered at the meeting, Oberfield among them. Farmers in the area said they supported the facility’s continued operation because of the sustainable electricity and fertilizer it provides.
The company has been working with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) to address the health and safety concerns raised by the population, but there are several factors that fall outside their purview. Oberfield said citizens should raise their concerns over health and safety to the EPA, until such time as the agency decides to step in.
Oberfield said that Renergy is a certified public utility, and is taxed in accordance with that designation. Renergy has appealed its zoning violation ruling.
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