HOLTON, Mich. — Some people in Holton Township say the odor from the Generate Fremont Digester lagoons is unbearable and they want the state to shut down the facility. 

“It is the odor,” says neighbor Kim Addison.  “It wakes you up in the middle of the night.  It makes you uncomfortable to be in your own home.”

But at meeting Thursday night in the Holton Fire Hall, regulators from the State Department of Environment, Great Lakes & Energy said they don’t have the authority to close the digester.  They can only enforce air quality and environmental standards.

“We have been to the site many times in response to these complaints,” said EGLE supervisor Fred Sellers. “We understand your frustration and anger with how long it is taking to correct this problem. Your frustration is justified."

The digester coverts poultry manure, dairy and food waste, grease and other material into gas they burn to make electricity.  Farmers use some of the left over liquid digestate for fertilizer.  The surplus is stored in a pair of lagoons in a corn field. Neighbors say the unpleasant odor of the waste is ruining their quality of life.

“I have a porch swing out in my back yard,” says neighbor Theodora Snyder.  “We don’t use it anymore. We can’t sit out on the deck. Our house is permeated with the stench. What are we supposed to do?”

State regulators say chemicals added to the digestate in the lagoons to reduce the odor were not effective enough.  They are requiring the digester owner to install covers on the lagoons. The deadline to choose a design and accept a bid is the end of the month.

“I understand plans take time,” says Amy Brookhouse.  “That’s fine with me, but there needs to be a final date.”

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