WESTFIELD TOWNSHIP — Residents say a spill that occurred last weekend came from Emerald Bioenergy (Renergy) and went into the Whetstone River and headed toward Delaware Reservoir and Lake.
Angela High said she is concerned about the incident and possible damage to the environment.
“There are a lot of people who fish the Whetstone River. This affects the environment,” she said.
High said Saturday’s incident isn’t the first spill of black sludge into the waterways.
“It was about 5:30 p.m. and ODNR responded. They took samples from the water off Road 21 and the bridge on 156 and Claypool Road,” she said.
The sludge is reportedly from Renergy’s lagoon, High said. She said a hose came apart at the facility.
She said ODNR attempted to “dam it up.”
Stephanie O’Grady, ODNR media and outreach specialist, said Monday afternoon, “The Ohio Department of Natural Resources (ODNR) Division of Wildlife responded to the incident in Morrow County Saturday evening. Officers looked for any impact to fish or other wildlife. None was found.”
The Ohio EPA is currently the investigating agency, she said. The company contacted Ohio EPA Saturday afternoon.
The company has responded and is taking steps to address the spill. Ohio EPA staff have been overseeing and monitoring the company’s response to the spill. A Notice of Violation will be issued for impacts to waters of the state.
Emerald opened here in September 2013. Residents have been upset for the past several years with foul odors they say emanate from the biodigester.
It is currently taxed as a public utility status by the Morrow County Treasurer. The court ruled earlier this year it “is a public utility and is not subject to the zoning regulations” after residents and the township zoning inspector filed suit against the company.
High said she has spoken to the Morrow County Prosecutor’s Office and an appeal process is under way.
The company website says: “Renergy diverts organic waste from landfills and produces renewable energy. Utilizing a process known as Anaerobic Digestion, we repurpose agricultural, municipal, and food waste into renewable energy and fertilizer to help reduce carbon emissions and preserve our environment.”
The April 17 incident has prompted some residents here to again write letters to officials, joining those in southwest Ohio who are upset about a sister facility there, Dovetail.
Lorie McCauley Venable of Fairborn posted on Facebook:
“May I suggest that due to the events that occurred this last weekend, both locally with the putrid odors that was making people physically ill and the catastrophic spill in Morrow County, you write a letter asking for the immediate shut down of both facilities due to the gross mismanagement and eminent danger to Ohio citizens and our environment.”
Venable is advising residents in both areas to send emails and letters to Gov. Mike DeWine, the Director of the Ohio EPA and Region 5 of the U.S. EPA.