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Nebraska energy plant suspending production to make repairs

April 22, 2019

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) — A northeastern Nebraska renewable energy plant is suspending production so it can make repairs that its owner hopes will resolve ongoing discharge and odor issues, a company official said.

Kevin Bradley, the director of business and economic development for Big Ox Energy, told the Sioux City Journal on Friday that the company won’t be accepting truckloads of organic waste from customers and will wind down its operations in South Sioux City until next month.

“We would certainly like to see this facility be successful over the long term. We believe this temporary shutdown will allow us to achieve that,” he said.

Damaged equipment that has leaked emissions will be emptied, evaluated and repaired or replaced as necessary. The extent of the damage and repairs will determine how long production will be halted, Bradley said.

Some of the more than 30 plant workers might be laid off during the shutdown, he said.

The Nebraska Department of Environmental Quality cited Big Ox earlier this month for failing to control emissions. Big Ox has had repeated problems with venting of hydrogen sulfide gas and with solid waste spills.

The plant has been under scrutiny since neighbors complained about the plant’s odor. Fifteen homeowners have filed lawsuits against the company and South Sioux City, saying the odors and gases backed up into their homes shortly after the plant began operations, causing health issues and making their homes uninhabitable.

Mayor Rod Koch said city officials were pleased with Big Ox’s voluntary decision to shut down for repairs.

“I think they’re finally getting a grasp on what they’re doing out there, and everyone will benefit from that,” Koch said. “They’re getting this thing cleaned up, and we’re very happy about that.”

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Information from: Sioux City Journal, http://www.siouxcityjournal.com

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