Operators of the Cargill plant in the south-central Iowa town of Eddyville have reached a settlement with the EPA over alleged clean air violations. EPA spokesman, Christopher Whitley, says the company failed to prevent chemicals from leaking out of the plant during the production.
“The company has agreed to pay a $110,000 civil penalty — we think just as significantly if not more so — they have agreed to make about $155,000 in improvements to technology at their facility,” Whitley explains. He says the new technology is designed to prevent leakage of chemicals into the air.
“There’s what’s referred to as sealless pump technology that will be implemented that hopefully will reduce, significantly reduce if not eliminate the kinds of emissions that were the focus of the case,” Whitley says.
The company uses chemicals such as methanol and formaldehyde in the production of Vitamin E and other compounds from soybean byproducts, but Whitley says there were no sicknesses or other health issues as a result of the violations. “Thankfully there was no particular crisis involved here,” Whitley says. “This is the result of routine facility inspections and reviews of records that EPA performed.”
He says the monitoring system helped them determine there were issues. “Sometimes it’s not always noticeable until you start reviewing records. Sometimes it’s very noticeable when you inspect a facility first hand,” Whitley says. “And so the combination of those two approaches for our compliance and enforcement process is really essential.” He says the new equipment will raise the quality and effectiveness of the plant’s ability to detect hazardous air pollution leaks.
“The estimate is the project will be done in about a year. So, hopefully by this time next year everything will be installed,” Whitley says. Whitley says they will have someone from outside the EPA and the company doing an audit of the company’s air pollution detection program.