State amends lawsuit against GPC alleging additional violations

State amends lawsuit against GPC alleging additional violations

Source: Quad-City Times, July 26, 2013

Attorney General Tom Miller announced Thursday the filing of an amendment to the State’s environmental lawsuit against Grain Processing Corporation (GPC), pending in Muscatine County District Court.

The original suit, which was filed in December 2011, alleged air and water pollution control violations by GPC. According to a press release issued by the Attorney General’s office, further investigation by the office and the Iowa Department of Natural Resources have since identified additional alleged environmental violations — which are included in the amendment — including but not limited to additional excess air emissions, failure to obtain certain air permits or comply with existing permits, failure to provide required air emission controls, and failure to report all actual air pollutant emissions.

The suit is seeking civil penalties for the alleged violations as well as injunctive relief requiring the company to comply with Iowa’s environmental laws. The start date for the trial is currently scheduled for Monday, Sept. 23.

In 2006, GPC paid a $538,000 civil penalty for failure to comply with construction permits limiting particulate emissions. The 2006 lawsuit alleged that GPC exceeded its annual hourly operating limits for a spray dryer, resulting in excess pollution. They also failed to take measures to prevent significant deterioration of the air quality.

At its Muscatine facility, GPC processes grain into ethanol and various feed, industrial and food products. The facility includes more than 300 emission units, or pieces of equipment that emit or have the potential to emit various air pollutants.

GPC spokesperson Janet Sichterman said in a press release that the amendment filed by the Attorney General’s Office now includes a comprehensive review and allegations retroactively relating to permits issued over the last 25 to 30 years to ensure all reporting is at current-day standards.

“For some time now, GPC has been working to reduce emissions below the newly enacted regulatory limits and within the timeline outlined by the regulatory agencies,” Sichterman said. “GPC is committed to ongoing sustainability efforts that positively impact the environment in the communities in which we operate.”

In 2011, GPC began a $100 million project, investing in “environmental sustainability.” The company is currently building a $75 million, state-of-the-art dryer house at the plant on the south side of Muscatine while also spending over $20 million to modernize and upgrade other environmental control systems.

“The new dryer house is scheduled to be completed in 2015, less than 22 months from now,” Sichterman said. “When the dryer house is fully operational, smoke, odor and haze will be nearly eliminated. We anticipate GPC’s emissions will be significantly reduced below current EPA guidelines.”

Along with other environmental initiatives GPC is taking part in, Sichterman said GPC remains dedicated to a long future of shared economic, environmental and community success for Muscatine and its citizens.

“We live, work and raise our families in Muscatine, we will continue to take the right steps to protect the physical and economic well-being of the people in our community,” Sichterman said.

Calls to the Attorney General’s office and to the DNR were not returned by press time. To read the amended lawsuit, visit http://www.state.ia.us/government/ag/latest_news/releases/july_2013/GPC_Amend_Petition.pdf.

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