Federal officials today announced a multi-million dollar settlement with Cargill to make improvements clean up the air emissions at 27 of the company’s grain milling plants — including six plants in Iowa. Matt Whitaker, the U-S Attorney for the Southern District of Iowa, says Cargill will also pay the federal government and 10 states involved a civil penalty of one-point-six million dollars. Whitaker says the corn and soybean industries are important in Iowa, and this settlement will “allow the processing industry to grow and flourish” while at the same time giving Iowa cleaner air.
(photo above shows Whitaker and U-S Northern District Attorney Charles Larson)
Jim Gulliford of the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency says Cargill will spend 130-million dollars to cut the emissions from its processing plants.
He says Cargill has agreed to reduce its sulfur-dioxide emissions by 15-thousand tons a year, a 50 percent reduction from its current output. He says they also install thermal oxidizer and scrubbers at 58 of their emission units and will reduce the emission of volatile organic compounds by 95 percent. Iowa plants in Des Moines, Iowa Falls and Sioux City are also part of this project.
Gulliford says another portion of the agreement has Cargill spending three-and-a-half million dollars on what are called Supplemental Environmental Projects or SEP’s. He says they’ll undertake a project to eliminate gaseous sulfur dioxide by substituting a less hazardous project. This will happen a plants in Blair, Nebraska; Eddyville and Cedar Rapids in Iowa, and Dayton, Ohio and Memphis, Tennessee. Gulliford says another SEP will replace the condensers at plants in Eddyville and Blair, Nebraska. He says the new condensers will use non-ozone-depleting substances and Cargill will destroy some 700 pounds of R-22 refrigerant that’s removed from the old equipment. The final SEP gives 500-thousand dollars to help with he Dunes and Wetland restoration project in Eddyville, and the Indian Creek Nature Center wetlands restoration project in Cedar Rapids. Gulliford says the chemicals aren’t posing an immediate impact on people who live near the plants, but will make a long-term impact on the surrounding air. He says they have to look at the big picture of the loading of nitrogen oxide, sulfur dioxide in the air, as he says those are precursors to ozone problems in large cities. He says the cities that don’t meet the ozone standards or are very close to attaining the standards have the biggest problems with unhealthy air.
Charles Larson, the U.S. Attorney for the Northern District of Iowa, says the settlement will be a big boost for his area. He says they have the most Cargill plants , so they have the most to gain. “It will result in great improvements for the environment in the northern half of Iowa in particular, ” Larson says. Cargill has five years to make the improvements agreed to in the settlement.