MUSCATINE, IOWA — Muscatine County District Court Judge Mark D. Cleve on March 27 ordered Grain Processing Corp. (G.P.C.) of Muscatine to pay a $1.5 million civil penalty, the largest ever paid to the state for environmental violations. In addition to the penalty, G.P.C. has been ordered to convert its boilers from coal-fired to natural gas-fired by July 15, 2015, resulting in an estimated reduction of more than 12,000 tons of air pollutant emissions per year. The decree also requires 10 additional air pollution control systems, which will result in at least an additional reduction of 700 tons of air pollutant emissions per year.
“This is a comprehensive and historic resolution of an environmental enforcement action,” said Tom Miller, Iowa Attorney General. “This outcome will go far toward ensuring G.P.C.’s environmental compliance and improving air quality in Muscatine.”
Among other things, G.P.C. must implement an ongoing environmental management system to achieve, maintain and improve environmental compliance. In addition, the company must conduct, through an approved third party, a comprehensive environmental audit of its corn processing facility, and implement corrective actions for identified environmental hazards or violations.
The court order permanently enjoins G.P.C. from further violations. G.P.C. also has agreed to pay substantial civil penalties for failing to comply in the future with the decree’s requirements.
G.P.C.’s Muscatine facility processes grain into ethanol and various feed, industrial and food products. The facility includes more than 300 emission units, or pieces of equipment that emit or have the potential to emit various air pollutants.
G.P.C. said the projects will complement, and be in addition to, the $100 million environmental sustainability efforts already under way at the company. In addition, the company is building a $75 million dryer at the plant site on the south side of Muscatine that is scheduled to be operational in early 2015. The company also said it is spending tens of millions of dollars to install and upgrade additional environmental control systems throughout the plant.
“In less than 18 months, these efforts will reduce total emissions to levels well below the newest and more stringent air quality standards now set by the E.P.A.,” G.P.C. said. “When the dryer house is fully operational, smoke, odor, and haze will be nearly eliminated.“Today’s announcement provides G.P.C. with the ability to focus on the future. The projects already completed and the many improvements that will be implemented have been approved and supported by the (Iowa Department of Natural Resources).”