Now, Muscatine residents are moving towards a class action lawsuit against GPC. The lawsuit claims that GPC’s pollution threatens the residents’ health. This lawsuit comes despite GPC’s assertion that they are complying with state regulations.
Last week, Iowa Public Radio released an intense report about the pollution issues in Muscatine.
Much of the pollution is linked to the Grain Processing Corporation (GPC). This company is currently under investigation by the Environmental Protection Agency for their air and water pollution. GPC provides a huge boost to the local economy, but critics also note that its pollution is causing health issues throughout the community.
Some of the Muscatine residents say the smog burns their eyes and gives them headaches.
The Environmental Protetion Agency issued a notice of violation last month to Grain Processing Corp. in Muscatine, Iowa. The EPA alleges that the company violated the Iowa State Implementation Plan and the federal Clean Air Act.
According to the EPA, the GPC facility repeatedly violated limits on air emissions opacity between 2007 and 2011, which were set in the company’s 1995 construction permit and its 2003 operating permit.
In addition to the violation notice, the EPA has also required the company to provide information about it’s compliance with the Clean Water Act.
A group of 40 Muscatine citizens known as Clean Air Muscatine (CLAM) is seeking to have its voice included in the state’s lawsuit against an alleged corporate polluter, Grain Processing Corporation (GPC).
In a lawsuit filed last month, The Iowa Department of Natural Resources alleges that GPC is a major source of hazardous air pollutants including formaldehyde, hydochloric acid and methanol.
Clean Air Muscatine is arguing that the state cannot adequately represent their interests, and is attempting to intervene in the case. Several members submitted sworn affidavits to the court describing the effects of the pollution.
“I believe GPC considers environmental fines as an operational expense, a cost of operation,” wrote Rev. Jim Turner of United Musserville Methodist Church, located across the street from the plant. “GPC and the individuals that govern it need to be responsible and held accountable for their actions.”
The Environmental Protection Agency is calling on Iowa businesses to lower their small-particle pollution within the next two years. The EPA sent a more stringent request to Muscatine, asking them to comply within 18 months.
According to the EPA’s website, these small particles cause health problems and damage the environment. The most common health effects include an increase in respiratory symptoms, decrease in lung function and the aggravation of asthma symptoms. Additionally, the particles can turn bodies of water acidic and damage farm crops.
On the other side, The Des Moines Register reports that the expenses connected to limiting small-particle pollution could limit job creation:
Branstad spokesman Tim Albrecht said the administration is studying the new rules and is working with the DNR and business groups to make sure the requirements do not block future job growth.
“There is no higher priority for our administration than job creation, and the governor will remain vigilant in identifying any regulatory impediments to job creation in Iowa, and work to ensure Iowa businesses are able to grow, prosper and expand here,” Albrecht said.
Muscatine’s Grain Processing Corporation (GPC) is undergoing a $100 million initiative to reduce emissions – but this isn’t enough for many nearby residents. In order to cut down on emissions, the GPC will create new facilities and get rid of old equipment responsible for much of the harmful pollution. While the residents endorse this change, the Muscatine Journal reports that they’re frustrated by both the amount of time it took for this project to begin, and the amount of time it will take for GPC to complete it. Current estimates anticipate three more years of work before all the changes are in place:
Several GPC neighbors voiced their opinions.
“My dad died last summer of stomach cancer,” said Wanda Mansaray, who lives on Schley Avenue. “In the end, death wins the battle. How many are going to die? How many more are going to suffer for the rest of their lives? I’m not a smoker, but I’m dying of GPC’s second- hand smoke. Some people can hardly take a breath because of that great factory next door.”
“My mother died of emphysema. My father died of emphysema. I have emphysema,” said another South End resident. “When I go outside, I’m coughing so bad within two hours I have to go back in where I have three expensive air filters.”
“We can’t even open our windows because the pollution enters the house,” said another person who lives across Baker Street from the plant. “There’s people that live around me that have cancer or lung problems. My son has asthma.” Continue reading →
Grain Processing Corp. announced Tuesday it will spend $100 million over the next four years to substantially clear Muscatine’s air of sulfur dioxide and small particle emissions.
The company will build a $75 million, state-of-the-art dryer at the plant site along the Mississippi River and will spend $20 million to upgrade environmental control systems for its boilers. Continue reading →
Air quality varies across the rest of Iowa, according to American Lung Association report
Quad Cities residents can’t quite breathe easy.
That’s because their region ranks 25th in short-term particle pollution – a phenomenon, which increases their risk of heart attacks, strokes, asthma attacks and possible early death, according to a new report by the American Lung Association.
Quad Citians join nearly 61 million people across the US, who live in areas prone to unhealthy spikes in particle pollution. Continue reading →
Iowa exceeded national air quality standards a record 85 times in 2010 – a number partly influenced by new lower allowances for sulfur dioxide, lead and PM 2.5 (small particulate matter), according to an annual Iowa DNR report first reported upon by Bettendorf.com.
National Ambient Air Quality exceedances occur when air pollutants – PM 2.5, ozone, sulfur dioxide, nitrogen oxide, lead, carbon monoxide or other small particulate matter – reach levels that are “unhealthy for sensitive groups,” including young children, the elderly and people with respiratory conditions or heart disease.
In 2009, 34 exceedances were recorded in Iowa. 2008 and 2007 saw 25 and 48 exceedances respectively. Continue reading →