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Muscatine residents sue GPC over pollution’s impact

Dave DeWitte, CR Gazette –

Eleven Muscatine area residents have sued Grain Processing Corp., alleging health effects and property damage from the company’s repeated violations of environmental protection laws.

The lawsuit filed Monday in Iowa District Court for Muscatine County follows the filing of a lawsuit by the Iowa Attorney General’s Office to force the company to comply with state environmental laws. The company was recently cited last month by the U.S. EPA for repeatedly violating the Clean Air Act between 2007 and 2011.

GPC manufactures food ingredients and chemicals, including grain alcohol, from a corn wet milling process.

In a statement, the plaintiffs said GPC has violated the Clean Air Act in each of the last 12 quarterly reporting periods, and has been designed as a “high priority violator” by the EPA over the past two years.

The lawsuit alleges that scientific air quality testing has confirmed potential health risks, and that soot and smoke are damaging personal property and real estate.

“Defendants refuse to limit or restrict these releases and continue to use outdated technology while increasing production,” the lawsuit said. “The frequency and volume of these releases continue to grow.”

Janet Sichterman, GPC spokeswoman, said the company is not prepared to comment because it was not presented with a copy of the lawsuit before the case was filed and a news release issued by the plaintiffs.

GPC’s factory is located on the south end of Muscatine near the Mississippi River.

The lawsuit asks the court to certify the case as a class action to represent about 6,500 households and 17,000 individuals within a three-mile radius of the GPC factory at 1600 Oregon Street.

The initial plaintiffs in the case are Laurie Freeman, Joseph Preston, Sharon Mockmore, Eugene Mockmore, Beccy Boysel, Gary Boysel, Daryle Snyder, Linda Goreham, Gary Goreham, Kelcey Brackett and Bobbie Lynn Weatherman.

Three law firms involved in filing the case also created a website for Muscatine area residents to learn more about the case and contact the attorneys.

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