Ohio EPA orders Biomass to remove tobacco

Published 12:00 am Wednesday, March 26, 2003

The Ohio EPA has ordered Biomass LLC to remove and properly dispose of 10,181 tons of tobacco the agency says has been illegally disposed and stored at the company’s 80-acre site in South Point

According to a release issued by the Ohio EPA this morning, Biomass has until July 29 to remove the tobacco. Biomass accepted the tobacco under a December 2002 contract with the United States Department of Agriculture. Through the contract, Biomass was to destroy 121,448 tons of surplus tobacco by burning it in the company’s boilers.

After receiving citizen complaints in March, the Ohio EPA investigated and documented cardboard boxes of tobacco dumped on the ground and broken open and placed in uncovered piles. Also, the tobacco has generated leachate from rainfall that could pollute nearby waters, including the Ohio River, according to the EPA.

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Biomass has an air permit from the Ohio EPA, but it does not allow the burning of tobacco in the boilers. The placement of the tobacco at the site, the EPA reports, constitutes open dumping of a solid waste and the establishment of an unpermitted solid waste disposal facility.

Ohio EPA ordered Biomass to immediately place temporary impermeable covers over the tobacco waste and begin collecting and properly disposing of all leachate generated at the property. By mid-June, Biomass must initiate the excavation and removal of the tobacco for proper disposal at a licensed solid waste facility.

The USDA suspended further shipments of tobacco after the Ohio EPA notified them of the violations at the site. Biomass is required to document its compliance with the actions Ohio EPA has ordered to resolve the violations associated with the tobacco waste at the site.