A spokesperson for Grain Processing Corporation in Muscatine says they are happy with the settlement that requires them to complete major upgrades and pay a record $1.5 million civil penalty to the state over environmental violations. “The settlement was actually the collaborative efforts between the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, the Attorney General and GPC. So we are very pleased with the settlement, we participated fully. It was the three parties developing it,” according to Janet Sichterman. “So, we feel it’s a fair settlement and what we’re really focused on is the projects and implementing all that was outlined in that consent decree.”
A spokesperson for a local community group “Clean Air Muscatine” or CLAM, says the pollution has plagued the city for years and the company should have to do more. Sichterman says they’ve been working on the agreement with the Attorney General and Iowa DNR for a year-and-a-half. She says it’s one of the most significant pollution reduction projects ever undertaken. “We’ve been working on that since 2006 and we actually broke ground in 2011, even before the CLAM was formed as an organization. And we’ve given annual community updates to business leaders, and in fact to CLAM,” Sichterman says.
The Iowa Attorney General’s office statement says the judge’s order includes an “unprecedented provision” requiring GPC to convert its boilers from coal to natural gas to cut pollution. Sichterman says the company made that proposal. “So this was something that GPC put on the table as a possibility and certainly was something that’s important to the community for changing this fuel source,” Sichterman says.
She says the change to natural gas will significantly reduce and all but eliminate sulfur dioxide, lead, and other emissions. The CLAM spokesperson says the changes will take too long. Sichterman says it’s a huge investment that can’t be done all at once. “By far, the most significant costs are what we’re investing into the plant to reduce emissions. That’s why it’s a multi-year consent decree,” Sichterman says. “It’s really a product of dollars and time and the ability to implement projects.”
The projects also include a $75 million state-of-the-art dryer at the plant site on the south side of Muscatine that is scheduled to be operational in early 2015.
See the settlement details here: GPC consent decree PDF