Order resolves lawsuit filed by Attorney General, alleging numerous air and water pollution violations
(MUSCATINE, Iowa) A Muscatine County judge today ordered Grain Processing Corporation of Muscatine to pay a record civil penalty and must reduce air pollutant emissions at the company’s Muscatine corn processing facility and improve air quality around the plant.
District Court Judge Mark D. Cleve assessed a $1.5 million civil penalty against the company, the largest ever paid to the state for environmental violations.
In addition to the penalty, the consent decree includes an unprecedented provision requiring GPC to convert its boilers from coal-fired to natural gas-fired, resulting in an estimated reduction of more than 12,000 tons of air pollutant emissions per year.
Conversion of the boilers to natural gas was a specific goal of Clean Air Muscatine, Inc. (CLAM), which had intervened in Miller’s lawsuit. The decree also requires ten additional air pollution control systems which will result in at least an additional reduction of 700 tons of air pollutant emissions per year.
“This is a comprehensive and historic resolution of an environmental enforcement action,” Attorney General Tom Miller said. “This outcome will go far toward ensuring GPC’s environmental compliance and improving air quality in Muscatine.”
The decree requires GPC to implement an ongoing environmental management system to achieve, maintain and improve environmental compliance. In addition, GPC must conduct, through an approved third party, a comprehensive environmental audit of its corn processing facility, and implement corrective action for identified environmental hazards or violations.
The court order permanently enjoins GPC from further violations. In addition, GPC has agreed to pay substantial civil penalties for failing to comply in the future with the decree’s requirements.
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.
The company estimates that implementing terms of the consent decree will cost $15-17 million in capital expenses, $1 million per year in operating costs, and $4-12 million per year in increased fuel costs.
The consent decree resolves a lawsuit Miller filed against GPC in 2011, alleging numerous air and wastewater violations.
Last April, GPC agreed to pay the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency $129,000 for violating the federal Clean Water Act.
In 2006, GPC paid a $538,000 state civil penalty for air pollution control violations after Miller filed a lawsuit.