Piqua gives community battery burn update


By Eamon Baird

[email protected]

PIQUA — The city of Piqua updated the community on Wednesday, March 6, reporting that water testing, air modeling, and soil sampling have all been completed following the cessation of Energy Safety Response Group’s (ESRG) lithium-ion burning operations at the former water treatment plant through a news release on its city website.

The release stated, “The city has concluded its review of the impacts of the battery testing at the site and is looking to recommission the site for other purposes now that concerns about the air, water, and soil quality have been resolved.”

Drinking water results:

According to a WSP USA Environment & Infrastructure report on Nov. 14, 2023, the sampling results from the city’s drinking water plant confirmed the water is safe for drinking, bathing, and cooking, and results from sampling of source waters in the area show there are no concerning contamination levels.

“Copper was detected at a concentration 1.58 milligrams per Liter (mg/L), which exceeds the US EPA SMCL of 1.0 mg/L. Copper is a common component of plumbing fixtures and supply lines, and detections of copper in potable water can often be attributed to corrosion within a plumbing system,” the report stated.

Air modeling results:

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) conducted an air quality modeling report in January to determine any potential contaminants released into the air by the battery testing activities. The results revealed no concerns about long-term health concerns.

“Neighbors of the burn site are concerned about the environmental and health impacts of the unsupervised burns. To gain a better understanding of the burns’ impacts on air quality, Ohio EPA conducted computer modeling of select burn events to provide specifics about the estimated quantity of emissions and predicted ground-level concentrations,” the report stated.

“The emissions data that ESRG provided to Ohio EPA did not contain sufficient information to develop the model, so Ohio EPA used available data on the largest burns and published documents on emissions for these types of operations to inform the model. Because of limited research and incomplete emission data, Ohio EPA’s Division of Air Pollution Control (DAPC) took a conservative approach and looked at worst-case scenarios with its modeling. DAPC used U.S. EPA’s preferred model to assess potential ground-level impacts for the three largest burns conducted on the site. These burns happened on April 6, July 27, and Aug. 8, 2023. After reviewing available information on typical emissions from the batteries, DAPC focused on hydrogen fluoride because it was the most harmful of potential emissions.”

“Two of the modeled days (April 6 and July 27) showed a potential for exposures that could lead to short-term, mild health symptoms. On those days it was possible that neighbors to the northeast and southeast of the burn site, including the dog park, could have experienced eye irritation, throat burning, headache, shortness of breath, chest pain, and nausea. Again, our modeling and health impact evaluation was conservative and took into consideration the most harmful of potential emissions and how they may have affected the most vulnerable in the vicinity (children, the elderly, and compromised health conditions, like asthma).”

“The Ohio EPA mapped out potential contaminant plumes based on meteorological conditions reported at the Dayton International Airport for the select burn dates. The model consisted of all known circumstances of the burns including weather, wind direction, burn duration, and mass of battery combusted. The modeling showed all potential areas of emissions exposure were within 1,000 feet of the facility’s fence line.”

None of the modeled days showed the possibility of serious and/or long-term health effects from emissions exposure during the burn events according to the report.

Soil sampling results:

WSP conducted 23 soil samples on Jan. 22-23, 2024, including, one stormwater sample, five wipe samples, and quality control samples.

Arsenic was the only analyte that exceeded concentrations exceeding the Ohio EPA Leach-Based Soil Values (LBSV). The report stated that none of the arsenic data exceeded the direct contact criteria for protecting human health.

“Arsenic was detected in Site soil at concentrations ranging from 3.08 mg/kg to 18.2 mg/kg with six results exceeding the LBSV for the protection of groundwater. Arsenic is naturally occurring in southwest Ohio soils, and concentrations detected in the Site soil samples were at or near reasonably anticipated background levels,” the report stated.

Each soil sample detected one or more Target Analyte List (TAL) metals. The highest concentrations of lithium, cobalt, copper, and nickel were detected on the test pads.

The Ohio EPA recommends decontaminating the test room of residual metals before further use or demolishing the structure. The city does not plan to utilize the test room any further and will comply with the Ohio EPA’s recommendations.

Next steps:

The city of Piqua appointed five members to a special Fire Training Facility Committee on March 5.

This committee’s purpose is to create a report detailing the events at the Fire Training Facility between 2017 and 2023 and, if necessary, to make recommendations to the Piqua City Commission.

The members serving on the new committee are David Roth, Joe Thompson, James Roth, Jerica Drapp, and Nancy Roof.

The release concluded, “Piqua City Commission is exploring a resolution regarding the burning of materials based on fire classification at the property to ensure that the community is protected from similar concerns in the future.”

For more information and updates, go to piquaoh.org/1587/Public-Safety-Training-Center.

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