UPDATE: Fairborn, Bath Twp. threaten to sue; biodigester company calls it ‘bullying’

Governments say they’ll sue EPA in 60 days unless emissions are fixed; Company calls lawsuit a frivolous ‘bullying tactic.’

Bath Twp. and the city of Fairborn announced Monday that they intend to sue state regulators over ammonia emissions they say are coming from the controversial biodigester facility in the township.

The township and city allege that a 5.5 million-gallon fertilizer lagoon next to the Dovetail facility was “installed and has been operating in violation of both the federal Clean Air Act and the state of Ohio’s air pollution laws since 2014,” a release from the city stated.

The township and city assert that Dovetail’s lagoon is emitting ammonia without the required air pollution permits nor air pollution control devices.

Many Bath Twp. and Fairborn residents have opposed the biodigester facility and have complained of odor they say has been coming from the facility for years.

Attorneys for Bath Twp. and Fairborn notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, the Ohio EPA, and Dovetail Energy that they intend to jointly file a lawsuit in 60 days in federal court under the Clean Air Act unless the alleged violations are corrected.

“Both the township and the city are hopeful that Dovetail will work cooperatively and in good faith with U.S. EPA and Ohio EPA to amicably resolve this matter as quickly as possible,” the release said.

Dovetail’s parent company Renergy operates the biodigester at 1156 Herr Road in Bath Twp. outside Fairborn. Anaerobic digesters are enclosed facilities in which manure and food waste is stored to produce fertilizer and methane gas, which is used to power neighboring homes. The electricity produced by Dovetail is publicly distributed through FirstEnergy.

Renergy officials said the threat of litigation “impedes the success of renewable energy and sustainable farming in Ohio” and is “nothing more than a bullying tactic” from the township.

“Renergy encourages the Bath Twp. trustees to accept our invitation to visit our facility and to work with us for the improvement of this community instead of wasting taxpayer dollars on more frivolous litigation that will be dismissed by our courts,” COO Cari Oberfield said.

The Ohio Court of Appeals recently upheld a Greene County court ruling stating the Dovetail biodigester was a public utility, and not subject to township zoning regulations. A class action lawsuit against Renergy is pending in Greene County.

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