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Local and Statewide News

Federal EPA Investigation Opened On Controversial Biowaste Facility In Fairborn

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

The U.S. Environmental Protection Agency office based in Chicago has opened an investigation into the controversial biodigester facility in Fairborn. The agency said they are focused on ensuring compliance with the Clean Water Act.

The EPA did not provide specific details on the investigation when asked for comment, but emails obtained by WYSO confirm that the Dovetail Energy facility has been under investigation since at least last month.

"The Water Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Branch in EPA Region 5 has been in correspondence with the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to discuss the compliance status of the Emerald Bioenergy/Dovetail Energy facilities in Morrow and Greene Counties," Molly Smith, Section 1 Chief of the Water Enforcement and Compliance Assurance Branch for Region 5, wrote in an email.

The agency also said they have assigned both a technical inspector and an attorney to the matter.

The Dovetail Energy facility uses bacteria to break down organic material — like food and agricultural waste — and converts it into methane gas, which can be collected and used as energy. The byproduct of this process is a thick sludge. That sludge can then be used by farmers as an organic fertilizer.

Neighbors of the facility have complained of the odor and truck traffic that comes from the facility. Some of them have formed a group called Bath Township Concerned Citizens. A class action lawsuit was also filed against the company by local residents in December of 2020.

The facilities in Greene and Morrow counties are both owned by Renergy, Incorporated, based in Central Ohio.

Environmental reporter Chris Welter is a corps member with Report for America, a national service program that places journalists into local newsrooms.