DAYTON, Ohio (WDTN) — Air quality concerns are rising in Piqua after residents discovered that a research group is allowed to burn batteries at an old water treatment plant.

The Piqua Fire Department has used the old water treatment plant as for training since 2018, but the site is also used to get rid of hazardous material.

The city allows the Energy Storage Research Group to burn lithium-ion batteries for research on the old site, and some residents want that to stop.

Citizens shared concerns about safety and the environmental impact at Tuesday’s city council meeting.

Research involving the burning of lithium-ion batteries at the old water plant has come under scrutiny due to the amount of smoke blowing into the nearby river and other populated areas. This testing has been going on since 2018, and residents are questioning its purpose.

The agreement between the City of Piqua and Energy Storage Research Group is for $500 to lease the land and $600 per burn.

The burns are not done by Piqua Fire Department but by the research company. The study focuses on the long-term effect of lithium batteries as a power source in buildings and electronics.

Piqua Fire Chief Brent Pohlschneider said burn permits are approved by the regional air pollution control agency, and the research has been beneficial for the department after a Tesla caught on fire on I-75.

The Regional Air Pollution Control Agency and the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency are scheduled to visit the site Thursday to do an inspection of where the burning takes place.