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Owner of Nebraska biogas plant blames two other companies for foul smell

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The owner of a biogas plant in Nebraska, US has passed blame onto two other companies regarding a foul smell in the area in response to multiple lawsuits.

The Sioux City Journal reported that Wisconsin-based Big Ox Energy submitted replies in Dakota County District Court to more than a dozen lawsuits filed against the company. Those who filed the lawsuits, mostly neighbours, said odours and gases have drifted into their homes, causing health issues and forcing them to leave.

The plant in Nebraska separate solids from industry wastewater and processes them using anaerobic digesters to create methane, which is then injected into a nearby natural gas pipeline. The remaining wastewater from the plant is piped through South Sioux City’s sewer system into a wastewater treatment plant in Sioux City in neighbouring Iowa.

Big Ox Energy denied the allegations and laid blame on two other local companies: CHS, a soybean processor that it alleges released acidic wastewater into South Sioux City’s sewer system, and Omaha-based engineering firm Olsson, which Big Ox claims recommended that wastewater from the plant be diverted through a sewer main that runs through residential areas.

In its formal reply, Big Ox also said that residents’ plumbing systems did not comply with city codes because they were not equipped with features to prevent odours and potentially harmful gases from entering their homes.

The Big Ox plant has been closed since April for repairs; however, it is unable to reopen until the plant’s two environmental permits have been renewed. A hearing is scheduled to take place in late September.

CHS and Olsson have yet to respond to the allegations.