Piqua residents express anger at Piqua Commission meeting


By Eamon Baird

[email protected]

PIQUA — Concerned Piqua residents asserted themselves at the Piqua Commission meeting on Tuesday, Oct. 3, stemming from the aftereffects of Energy Safety Response Group’s (ESRG) lithium battery burn testing.

Rich Spraggs, who protested outside the commission meeting during its executive session, expressed concern for resident welfare and the possible financial consequences in the aftermath of the battery burns.

“My biggest fear is hydraulic safety, and I don’t think it’s fair because you look at the people on that advisory committee, and they want the people of Piqua to pay for their property enhancement, and this is going to raise storm bills and utility bills,” Spraggs said.

Piqua Mayor Cindy Pearson addressed the standing-room-only crowd during the commission meeting.

“We appreciate the passion that you have all shown for our community. This was an opportunity that made sense to all of us with all of the necessary approvals. We collaborated very closely with [Regional Air Pollution Control Agency] RAPCA and the Ohio Envionmental Protection Agency (EPA), and we will follow any recommendations that are made to us,” Pearson said.

After other items of legislation were discussed and approved, the meeting opened for public comment.

“What is the status of the burning at the old water treatment plant? Has it been permanently shut down? That’s my question,” Piqua resident Scott Phillips said.

City Manager Paul Oberdorfer said that after a meeting between ESRG and the Ohio EPA, there will be no more lithium burning at the site. Still, it will be used for fire training, and there will be an open house for the public to view the facility.

Chuck Starrett, who resides a mile from the burn testing, addressed concern with the commission.

“Listen to your citizens; they are your bosses. Outside, people are taking over your city, and you’re sitting there letting it happen,” Starrett said.

After Alisha Lange addressed the commissioners and asked if they were prepared to resign over the ESRG issue, Pearson shut down the meeting’s public comments.

When Miami Valley Today reached out to the EPA about ESRG’s battery burning, they issued the following statement:

“An update from Ohio EPA regarding ESRG and Piqua:

“The Energy Safety Response Group (ESRG) ceased all lithium-ion battery testing on Sept. 22, 2023, at the former Piqua water treatment plant. Ohio EPA issued a notice of violation to ESRG, which requested the company send Ohio EPA water and air data collected from the site over the last three years. Ohio EPA is reviewing the data. The city of Piqua and ESRG agreed that ESRG will vacate the site within the next 60 days.

Ohio EPA and the RAPCA performed an inspection of the site on Sept. 21, 2023, after receiving numerous complaints of open burning and concerns over air emissions and water contamination. The inspection determined the testing was not within the scope of the open burning permission. The permission was submitted by the Piqua Fire Department for ESRG to conduct fire research and training, but the fire department was not on site for the burning.

Ohio EPA terminated Piqua’s current open burning permission at the city’s request. The site may still be used for other fire training in the future.”

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