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Former Greene County biodigester site free of waste, lawsuit ends

A gravel road leading to the Dovetail biowaste facility in Fairborn.
Chris Welter
The Dovetail biowaste facility on Herr Road.

The federal lawsuit between Fairborn and Bath Township residents versus Renergy is over, with the biodigester closed down and the site clear of biowaste.

This lawsuit was originally filed back in 2022. Residents of these communities alleged the Renergy’s biodigester facility in Bath Township — which has since shut down — violated the Clean Air Act, because the biowaste solids produced on site created an odor residents said was unbearable.

Renergy did not respond to WYSO's request for comment by publication.

Residents made three different allegations:

  • that Renergy installed the waste site without the required permits;
  • didn’t do its best effort to reduce air emissions;
  • and didn’t identify all potential toxic air contaminants and their sources.

Amid the dispute, the facilityshut down under a consent decree in order to avoid fines.

Given the consent decree, the case was terminated Feb. 12 before reaching a trial. Neither the residents nor Renergy received a favorable ruling in the case.

U.S. District Judge Michael Newman wrote that the consent decree already provides “a reasonable settlement likely to bring about compliance to relevant regulations.”

Bath Township trustee Kassie Lester said she is not surprised by this decision. But if it weren’t for this case, she said the U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA may not have paid any attention to this facility.

“We're going to continue to protect the quality of life of our residents. And whatever hurdle comes our way, we'll tackle it when it comes,” Lester said.

But there’s at least one thing the community can celebrate, she said.

“I am hopeful that all the residents that have been suffering are going to be able to enjoy going outside this summer and enjoying their property, and that the odors will never come back.”

Ohio EPA: Biowaste gone

The consent decree ordered Renergy to remove all of the biowaste solids from the site by Jan. 31, but the company requested that deadline be extended to Feb. 15.

Ohio EPA officials told WYSO that the agency inspected Renergy’s Dovetail facility last week and confirmed all of the biowaste on site has been removed.

“Now, (the) Ohio EPA will be able to terminate the facility’s wastewater permit after the final reports are submitted by Renergy. Under the terms of the consent order, the company has until the end of this month to submit the final paperwork,” wrote an Ohio EPA spokesperson in an email.

Adriana Martinez-Smiley (she/they) is the Environment and Indigenous Affairs Reporter for WYSO. They grew up in Hamilton, Ohio and graduated from Northwestern’s Medill School of Journalism in June 2023. Before joining WYSO, her work has been featured in NHPR, WBEZ and WTTW.

Email: amartinez-smiley@wyso.org
Cell phone: 937-342-2905
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