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State extends decision date on biogas plant’s permits

LINCOLN, Neb. (AP) — State regulators have extended a decision date on whether a troubled biogas plant in northeast Nebraska should gets to keep its state environmental permits.

Big Ox Energy was given an opportunity at a hearing on Monday in Lincoln to tell regulators why its two state permits should not be revoked. A lawyer retained by Big Ox pointed to changes to its bypass system, among other reasons.

But state regulators and the company agreed to delay the decision and set another hearing for Sept. 29. Big Ox must report any further matters pertaining to energy production and must properly handle the plant’s environmental deficiencies. The plant shut down in April for repairs.

A spokesman for the Nebraska Environment and Energy Department, Brian McManus, said Big Ox, out of Denmark, Wisconsin, is working on a number of matters.

“With the 60 days, there will be more information submitted to us so that we can come to a final decision,” McManus said.

The department cited Big Ox in April for failing to control emissions. Big Ox has had repeated trouble with venting hydrogen sulfide gas and with solid waste spills.

The plant has been under scrutiny since neighbors complained about odors produced by the plant. 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 opened, causing health troubles and making their homes uninhabitable.

The company’s permit to discharge wastewater into a regional treatment plant in Sioux City, Iowa, expired in May, and Sioux City officials have said the company must resolve several issues before it can be granted a new permit.

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