MOUNT GILEAD — Attorney General Dave Yost today filed for a contempt motion against Renergy Inc. and others for illegally accepting and storing excessive amounts of food waste and other organic waste at its Morrow County treatment facility in violation of a preliminary injunction the company agreed to in June.
“We are taking proactive steps to avoid a mess,” Yost said. “The excessive storage of untreated waste poses a serious threat to Ohioans if a tank leaks and pollutes the surrounding water. We are going to court because, when it comes to the environment, waiting to see what happens is not the answer.”
The motion, filed in Morrow County Common Pleas Court on behalf of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency, states that Renergy’s Emerald Facility in Morrow County is improperly storing nearly 1.5 million gallons of untreated organic waste in 83 mobile containers known as frac tanks.
The Emerald Facility is one of two Renergy sites in Ohio where manure and other organic matter such as food waste are treated with bacteria to produce methane, which can be sold for use in generating electricity. The decomposition process leaves a liquid byproduct that is stored in open holding ponds on the sites. The liquid, some of which is transported and stored at a third Renergy site, is treated and used as fertilizer in farm fields.
Today’s motion follows a complaint against Renergy filed in June for air and water pollution violations. The air pollution violations were resolved with a partial consent order; the water violations were partially addressed by a consent order for preliminary injunction (COPI).
Under terms of the COPI, Renergy’s Emerald Facility was required to treat and remove from its holding ponds three times more liquid byproduct, by volume, than the untreated organic waste it had on hand and was waiting to process. The 3-to-1 requirement was imposed to ensure that the Emerald Facility did not accept more waste than it could treat.
Since April, two months before the COPI was signed, EPA inspectors have seen the number of frac tanks holding untreated waste at the Emerald Facility grow from eight to 83, amounting to nearly 1.5 million gallons. To the relevant time period, however, the Emerald Facility has treated and removed just over 1 million gallons of material from the ponds.
Yost’s lawsuit asks the court to order Renergy to adhere to the COPI, to empty and remove frac tanks at the Emerald Facility as soon as possible but no later than Dec. 31, to stop accepting untreated organic waste at the site until the tanks are removed, and to refrain from placing frac tanks on any properties owned by the company.