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Ohio AG's office sues companies that run local biodigester for unpermitted emissions of ammonia

Residents put a smaller thumb tack next to where they live if they say they smell the biodigester there. The big thumbtack is the Dovetail Biowaste Operation.
Mawa Iqbal
/
WYSO
Residents do an impromptu charade in the Bath Township Building Parking lot. Residents were asked to put a smaller thumb tack next to where they live if they say they smell the biodigester there. The big thumbtack is the Dovetail Biowaste Operation on Herr Road.

The State of Ohio is suing two companies that run a biodigester in Greene County. The state alleged in the complaint that an open concrete tank at the facility in Bath township emits "unpermitted" levels of ammonia.

The biodigester is owned by Ohio-based Renergy Inc. and a subsidiary called Dovetail Energy, LLC.

The facility, which is co-located on a pig farm, has a series of machines and tanks that break down organic waste and produce some biogas energy as a byproduct. Another by-product from the anaerobic digestion process is a waste sludge called digestate. The digestate is stored in an open-air tank. Later, the digestate, also known as biosolids, gets spread on farm fields as fertilizer.

The Dovetail Biowaste facility on Herr Road in Fairborn
Chris Welter
/
WYSO
The Dovetail Biowaste facility on Herr Road in Fairborn

The complaint from the AG's office said that Renergy did not have the permits for the kinds of waste it was processing and storing from 2013 to 2018.

Specifically, the state said the company failed to obtain the required permit for the digaste storage tank after it started introducing non-agricultural organic waste into its process at the facility.

Furthermore, the state said that meant the levels of ammonia emitted are subject to regulation outlined in the Ohio administrative and revised codes.

The AG is seeking more than twenty five thousand dollars in civil penalties from the company.

Representatives from Renergy did not respond to a request for comment by airtime. The Ohio AG's office and the Ohio EPA also declined to comment because it's a pending litigation.

A group of concerned citizens have protested about the facility for years. The biodigester owned by Renergy was also a hot button issue in the townships trustee race last fall. There's also an ongoing federal EPA
on the facility.

Chris Welter is an Environmental Reporter at WYSO through Report for America. In 2017, he completed the radio training program at WYSO's Eichelberger Center for Community Voices. Prior to joining the team at WYSO, he did boots-on-the-ground conservation work and policy research on land-use issues in southwest Ohio as a Miller Fellow with the Tecumseh Land Trust.