EPA reaches settlement with Big Ox Energy
The EPA says it's reached an agreement with Big Ox Energy of Dakota City to prevent future chemical releases like one that sent a plant employee to the hospital last year.
Big Ox will pay a civil penalty of more than $10,000 as well as fund a supplemental environmental project to donate an ambulance, defibrillator and chest compression system to the South Sioux City Fire Department.
That donation will cost more than $39,000.
This federal agreement comes on top of a settlement with the Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality back in June.
This evening Big Ox Energy released the following statement regarding the EPA settlement.
South Sioux City, Neb. Dec. 5, 2017 -- Big Ox Energy has proactively worked with the EPA, the State Department of Environmental Quality, the residents and leadership of South Sioux City to ensure that its highly-regulated operations have not and will not cause any adverse impacts to the safety or health of the local community. Big Ox Energy proactively complies with all related standards and obligations set forth in its air and water permits.
Big Ox Energy, however, would like to set the record straight and note that this settlement with EPA does not involve the 26 households mentioned in an EPA news release. Big Ox Energy contacted the EPA about the fact their release incorrectly could be misinterpreted as indicating the settlement was addressing wastewater issues at the 26 homes, and the EPA agreed tonight that there is no allegation by the EPA in the settlement that hydrogen sulfide gas infiltrated 26 homes. The settlement solely arises under the Clean Air Act planning provisions as they relate to a one-time incident last year inside the Big Ox plant that has since been settled with OSHA. Testing of homes has consistently found either no detectible levels of hydrogen sulfide gas or amounts well below regulatory limits in homes that had plumbing systems that did not comply with building codes. Those building codes are designed to prevent the intrusion of gases found in most sewers in America.
The company saves South Sioux City and its taxpayers $900,000 annually through creating renewable biogas from treating daily 2 million gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of other organic waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill. Each day the South Sioux City plant injects nearly 1200 dekatherms of renewable natural gas into the interstate pipeline. That number is equivalent to nearly 10,000 gallons of gasoline.