PIQUA, Ohio (WDTN) — Piqua residents have voiced concern about the city’s old water treatment plant being used to burn lithium batteries. The EPA has now issued a notice of violation for multiple offenses based on their inspection of the facility.
According to a statement posted on Oct. 13, the city of Piqua says it was not aware that the energy storage response group was violating the original 2018 agreement. The agreement allowed small-scale burning of lithium-ion batteries.
Once the city was made aware, they notified the Ohio EPA.
“We will follow any recommendations, if any, that are made to us,” said Piqua Mayor Cindy Pearson.
The old water treatment plant is near a bike trail and a river. Residents say the smell of the burning batteries was unbearable.
“But the blue-white haze over swift from like a raw water source, it’s terrible smell of chemicals,” said Jeff Grimes, Piqua resident. “And my wife and I immediately starting to cough violently when we came up our road.”
At a meeting on Oct. 3, Piqua City Commission says they appreciate the compassion that the residents have shown for the safety of the community. In an online statement, they also note that the site had not received any reported concerns from the Ohio EPA or the Regional Air Pollution Control Agency since the contract began.
Other residents say that one of their biggest concerns is if the lithium batteries were to catch fire, how the local department could contain it and possible long-term implications for the city’s drinking water.
“Tons of material would go into the air and settle into our drinking water supply,” said Scott Phillips, Piqua resident. “This is not a scenario that works for our community whatsoever.”
According to the online statement, all ESRG operations ceased on Sept. 22, and ESRG agreed to vacate the site. Access to the site is now being controlled by city personnel. ESRG has been given until Nov. 22 to relocate.
The city says that they will be opening up the plant in the future for community members to come and take a look at it. Residents tell 2 NEWS they would like to see soil and water tests conducted to make sure contamination has not already happened.
Ultimately, the Ohio EPA found that the plant was causing a nuisance to the community and has ordered the ESRG to cease any battery burning activities that result in air contaminant emissions.