A plant in Council Bluffs that closed this spring will have to reduce lead emissions if it reopens — and the plant’s out-of-state owners have agreed to pay a federal fine of nearly a million dollars. Alabama-based U.S. Pipe bought the Griffin Pipe facility in Council Bluffs in February. It closed the plant in May, putting 250 people out of work.
The Environmental Protection Agency announced an agreement with the company this week to settle Clean Air Act and Clean Water Act violations. The EPA levied a $950,000 civil penalty against the plant for illegal dumping of untreated wastewater into the storm sewers in Council Bluffs for at least a year and for violations of air quality standards for lead, zinc, copper and other pollutants. A $14 million system to address those air and water quality concerns was installed before the plant closed.
Griffin Pipe started nearly a century ago as Griffin Wheel. At one time it was the nation’s largest manufacturer of the iron wheels for trains. In 1960, the company was renamed and started making iron water pipes. By the late 1990s, it was the second-largest employer in Council Bluffs.