AG Yost announces shutdown of Renergy’s foul-smelling ‘digester’ in Greene County
Facing continuing complaints about raunchy odors stemming from environmental violations, Renergy has agreed to permanently close down its organic waste treatment facility in Greene County – a victory for the facility’s neighbors and the state as a whole.
"Renergy’s shutdown will eliminate both the environmental problems in this case and the olfactory nuisance that the site has become," Ohio Attorney General Dave Yost said. "I am asking the court to approve our proposed order so Renergy can move swiftly and properly with a safe cleanup.”
The Greene County facility is one of two digester facilities operated by Renergy; the other is in Morrow County. The so-called “digesters” use bacteria to treat manure and other organic materials, ultimately generating methane for sale in electricity production.
The decomposition process yields a liquid byproduct, some of which is transported and stored at a third Renergy site, and is used as fertilizer in agricultural fields.
The state previously sued Renergy on behalf of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for alleged air- and water-pollution violations at both of Renergy’s digesters. The company was accused of illegally accepting and storing excessive organic wastes at the facilities.
The air-pollution violations were addressed through two consent orders, but the water-pollution violations have persisted, as have complaints about the odors in Greene County. The water-pollution violations remain the subject of a pending enforcement case in Morrow County.
Renergy has agreed to resolve the Greene County issues by closing the digester, prompting the request for final judgment that Yost’s Environmental Enforcement Section submitted Sept. 20 to the Greene County Common Pleas Court.
The filing asked the court to require the Greene County Renergy site to:
• Stop accepting feedstock and waste by Oct. 1, 2023.
• Empty the digestate storage tank by Dec. 15, 2023.
• Empty and clean the digester and other equipment by Jan. 15, 2024.
• Submit documentation of the emptying and cleaning by Jan. 30, 2024.
• Request termination of its permits and certify that the facility is permanently shut down by Jan. 31, 2024.
The filing also asks the court to impose an additional $25,000 in penalties (for a total of $100,000 in penalties), to be suspended if Renergy complies with the requirements.
Yost’s legal request is subject to approval from the Common Pleas judge in the case.