Editor’s Note: The following is a Citizen Advisory that was released by the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (Ohio EPA) on Thursday, January 19, 2023.
In a Citizen Advisory that was released by the Ohio EPA it stated, The Ohio Attorney General, on behalf of Ohio EPA, recently filed a motion for preliminary injunction against Renergy, Inc., Emerald BioEnergy, LLC, and Alexander Ringler for violations of Ohio’s water pollution law related to an equipment malfunction and spill that occurred on Dec. 24, 2022, at the Emerald organic biodigester facility near Cardington.
The malfunction caused an estimated 150,000 gallons of partially treated digestate waste to be released to nearby ground and to a tributary and main channel of Whetstone Creek. An estimated 40,000-50,000 gallons of the waste discharged to waters of the state was not recovered.
The state alleges the company did not properly report the spill or manage the cleanup of waste material, including flushing partially treated digestate into the creek and land applying the material rather than containing it for proper disposal.
Filed with the Morrow County Court of Common Pleas, on Jan. 10, 2023, the motion outlines an extensive list of actions the state maintains Renergy must perform to address current and potential harms from the Emerald facility including:
• Immediately cease accepting waste until it can be certified the facility’s anaerobic digester is operating properly and the facility has adequate capacity to store both treated and untreated material in permitted areas.
• Immediately refrain from pumping, discharging, or land applying any untreated feedstock or partially treated digestate onto land and discharging any material into waters of the state.
• Implement a clean-up plan approved by Ohio EPA and hire a contractor to clean up and restore all land, surface waters, and ground water impacted by the Dec. 24, 2022, spill and subsequent events.
• Cease receiving material in frac storage tanks and remove all material from the frac tanks and the tanks themselves.
A hearing on the motion for preliminary injunction has not been set by the court.
Renergy is already subject to a court order dated June 21, 2022, to address violations related to the improper management and storage of waste materials at the facility. The State alleges that Renergy violated that order and filed contempt charges on Sept. 6, 2022, citing the unpermitted use of frac tanks to store untreated feedstock. A hearing on those charges is set for Feb. 9, 2023.