Emerging Risks / Issues: NDEQ was contacted in early June about malodorous emissions and discharges of sludge from Big Ox Energy located near South Sioux City. Big Ox injects biogas from an anaerobic digester into a natural gas pipeline. Complaints on this facility have been received beginning with its initial operations. NDEQ investigated and requested EPA provide ambient air monitoring assistance. NDEQ issued an Emergency Order requiring the company to immediately stop the discharges and provide a detailed plan for addressing the problems. NDEQ continues to receive daily reports from Big Ox on its remediation.
Accomplishments: On June 15th, NDEQ attended a celebration related to the atrazine delisting of Shell Creek. Dignitaries attending the celebration included Governor Ricketts, EPA Administrator Scott Pruitt, EPA Region VII Administrator Jim Gulliford, and local project leaders and participants. This is the first atrazine stream delisting in a large watershed (approximately 300,000 acres) due to implementation of a watershed plan. This success is due to the coordinated efforts of local individuals and organizations including landowners, the NRD, local schools, as well as NDEQ and EPA Region VII.
Misc. Items of Note:
On June 21st, the Environmental Quality Council (EQC) met in Ogallala in conjunction with a meeting of the Nebraska Game and Parks Commission; this was their first joint meeting. A hearing was held on NDEQ’s recommendations related to the drinking water and wastewater Intended Use Plan – NDEQ’s recommendations were approved. Additionally staff from NGPC and NDEQ presented programs on topics of interest to both organizations: harmful algal blooms, the impact of prescribed fires on southeast Nebraska, water quality and cool water streams, threatened and endangered species and invasive species.