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South Sioux City Council OKs settlement over biogas plant

SOUTH SIOUX CITY, Neb. (AP) — The South Sioux City Council has approved payment of $500,000 to settle its part in 16 lawsuits filed against the city and a now-defunct biogas plant by homeowners who accused the plant of sending rancid fumes through the city sewer system and ruining their homes.

The settlement calls for the city, Big Ox Energy, three insurance companies and two other companies to pay a combined $1.75 million, which will be divided among the homeowners. The city council approved South Sioux City’s portion on Monday, the Sioux City Journal reported.

Big Ox began operations in September 2016, separating solids from industry wastewater to create methane. The plant sold the methane and injected it into a nearby natural gas pipeline. Big Ox was subject to odor complaints soon after it began operations and was cited for numerous environmental violations until it shut down in 2019.

Neither South Sioux City and Big Ox, which have both denied the homeowners’ claims, admit liability in the settlement. After the complaints and lawsuit, Big Ox in turn sued two other companies. The first was former soybean processor CHS Inc., which it said illegally released acidic wastewater into the city’s sewer system. The second was Olsson Inc., an engineering firm that Big Ox said recommended wastewater from its plant be routed through a sewer main that ran through residential areas.