Federal environmental officials are visiting Louisville this week to address residents’ questions about biodigesters, the green technology in which organic waste is turned into natural gas.
Biodigesters are at the center of a controversial proposal to bring the technology to West Louisville at 17th and Maple streets.
Star BioEnergy — formerly Nature’s Methane — is proposing to build a $40-million biodigester tank site that would turn waste from the Heaven Hill distillery and other sources into methane gas.
The project has drawn staunch opposition from West Louisville residents, who say they don’t want more chemical or gas plants in their neighborhoods.
Amid the controversy, a second methane plant project at the FoodPort development was called off earlier this year. City officials and Star BioEnergy representatives have embarked on a campaign to offer more information about the project.
Chris Poynter, a spokesman for Mayor Greg Fischer, said one of the steps the mayor took to get educated was to visit the Environmental Protection Agency in Washington, D.C.
“And he asked the EPA, ‘Would you be willing to come to Louisville to hold a public forum and help educate the public?’” Poynter said.
The EPA said yes.
On Thursday, the EPA will send Steve Rock, an environmental engineer for its National Risk Management Research Laboratory in Cincinnati, to talk about biodigesters with residents who live near the proposed site.
The Rev. Charles Elliott of King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church will host the public meeting.
“I think the real value is to have an outside prospective on what are biodigesters, how they work, opportunity for the public to hear directly from EPA officials, and then to draw their own conclusions about whether this is good or not for the community,” Poynter said.
West Louisville residents have said they have understood the technology for some time now.
“We understand what’s going on,” said Carol Clark, a resident and business owner from the California neighborhood that lives blocks from the proposed site. “I am appalled that they would even think that we are just uneducated enough to see what’s going on.”
The meeting will be at 5:30 p.m. Thursday at King Solomon Missionary Baptist Church, 1620 Anderson St.