Biomass trial date postponed

Published 12:05 am Sunday, July 10, 2016

The trial of Mark Harris, owner of Biomass, and the Ohio Attorney General Mike DeWine has been postponed.

Originally the case was to be heard before Lawrence County Magistrate D.L. McWhorter on Sept. 26 through Sept. 28. However earlier this month the trial dates were changed to Nov. 7 through Nov. 9.

Harris is the owner of Biomass, a Nicholasville, Kentucky-based business that was to build an electricity-producing plant at The Point industrial park. The plant has yet to be built.

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In August, DeWine filed against Harris and his son, Tyler, over the demolition and renovations at the former Allied Chemical powerhouse that Harris owns at The Point.

“(It) caused asbestos — a hazardous air pollutant widely known for its carcinogenic effects – to be discharged into the environment,” the suit alleges. “Since at least October 2013, the unsecured facility continues to be a public nuisance and a threat to the health and safety of its neighbors.”

The lawsuit alleges 11 counts against the two men for not following the orders of the director of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency to comply with the Ohio Revised Code’s directives on asbestos abatement. For each count each defendant is liable for civil penalties up to $25,000.

McWhorter recently ruled that there will be a trial following Harris filing answers to the complaint on behalf of himself and his son. The state filed a motion to strike those responses and Harris did not file any response to that motion.

The reason was Harris is not a licensed Ohio attorney and is not certified to practice law in the state.

The suit also asks the court to order the defendants to secure the site to public access until all asbestos is removed; keep all asbestos-containing waste material wet until it is disposed; and use proper emission control measures to repair and remove all asbestos-containing material that was damaged by the demolition.