Three families impacted by a foul odor in South Sioux City that began last fall have filed suit against Big Ox and South Sioux City.
The lawsuits were filed in late November and earlier this month in Dakota County District Court.
The plaintiffs are looking for payment for property damages, health costs and other items.
The claims in each case are over 600 thousand dollars.
We talked to the attorney representing the three families on the reason for the lawsuits.
"South Sioux City and Big Ox created the circumstances and caused a series of events that harmed the persons who filed suit and damaged their property." said Dave Domina, South Sioux City residents lawyer.
We reached out to a representative of Big Ox. The company sent us a press release which said that it denies the allegations contained in the lawsuits filed by South Sioux City residents. Big Ox says it intends to defend itself vigorously against such claims.
We also reached out to South Sioux for a comment. They said we would need to talk to their attorney who was not in Wednesday.
The situation with Big Ox, and the homeowners, began in early October of last year. That is when residents began to notice an unpleasant odor in their homes which, at the time, shared a sewer line with Big Ox.
Big Ox maintains that testing of the homes has consistently found either no detectable levels of hydrogen sulfide gas or amounts well below regulatory limits. Big Ox has maintained plumbing, which wasn't up to code, caused the majority of problems in the homes, not the Big Ox plant.
Here's the full statement from Big Ox Energy:
South Sioux City, Neb. December 6, 2017--Big Ox Energy is committed to being a good corporate neighbor and employer in South Sioux City. Big Ox Energy provides affordable and sustainable disposal services for organic waste while creating jobs directly and as a local source of renewable natural gas and other valuable products.
BOE denies the allegations of lawsuits involving some South Sioux City residents targeting Big Ox Energy and South Sioux City and intends to defend itself vigorously against such claims. Big Ox Energy has proactively worked with all inter-related federal, state and local agencies and with the residents and leadership of South Sioux City to ensure that its highly-regulated operations have not and will not cause any adverse impacts to the safety or health of the local community.
Besides investing in South Sioux City through spending more than $35 million to create new sewage treatment facilities for South Sioux, Big Ox Energy has spent more than
$1 million to help build a new sewer line that is isolated from residential, school and business sewer lines.
Working in partnership with all stakeholders, Big Ox Energy (BOE) proactively complies with all related standards and obligations set forth in its air and water permits. The comprehensive obligations and standards in the company’s long-standing permits were developed through an open and transparent process that carefully considered and responded to all the potential impacts to the community through the imposition of state-of-the-art controls. In addition, a lawsuit allegation that BOE concealed contents of released gases to Plaintiffs is unequivocally false. BOE’s processes have always been open to the public as part of the public permitting process.
The company saves South Sioux City and its taxpayers $900,000 annually through creating renewable biogas from treating daily 2 million gallons of wastewater and hundreds of tons of other organic waste that would otherwise end up in a landfill.
Each day the South Sioux City plant injects nearly 1200 dekatherms of renewable natural gas into the interstate pipeline. That number is equivalent to nearly 10,000 gallons of gasoline.
Currently the South Sioux City facility employs 35 full-time employees, and the plant plans to continue to hire more people.
In the future, Big Ox Energy in South Sioux City will develop processes for organic soils production, and will capture CO2 to be used for beverage grade products.