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Clean Air Muscatine And GPC Say Settlement Agreement Is A Win For Muscatine

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Muscatine's Grain Processing Corporation will pay a $1.5 million fine and invest millions to make its plant cleaner.

Comparing air quality data from the Iowa Department of Natural Resources can help point out why.

Clinton County had no unhealthy days over the last five years.

Scott County averages just a small spike in July over five years.

Muscatine has had nearly one unhealthy day each month over five years.

Some of that is attributed to grain processor GPC.

It's just one of the reasons the state sued the company and negotiated Thursday's $1.5 million fine as part of a settlement agreement.

Sunset on Oregon Street is hazy, as smoke and steam belch out of smokestacks at Grain Processing Corporation in Muscatine. A sight Clean Air Muscatine hopes will change after the end of this lawsuit.

"I think this is an example of our citizens and our members in Muscatine, our members of CLAM, standing up to this and demanding cleaner air," says Clean Air Muscatine President Sandy Stanley.

She says her group wanted an even bigger fine, but says anything is better than nothing when it comes to air quality.

"There were some more things, we didn't get everything we wanted, but it's going to be better than it was," says Stanley.

Clean Air Muscatine is not the only group satisfied with today's settlement decision, GPC is as well. The settlement means the company can continue to operate with the permits it needed, with the charges it faced settled.

"All the projects that were outlined in this consent order really help us to attain quality standards and improve upon what the regulations are in advance of a lot of the deadlines," says company spokesperson Janet Sichterman.

She says GPC agreed to change over its boilers from coal to natural gas. It has been building a new dryer house since 2011. It estimates emissions will drop from 15,000 tons of pollution to less than 3,000 tons.

"GPC and Kent Corporation is very committed to this community, and air quality, these projects represent significant investment of dollars because of our investment in the community," says Sichterman.

The company must also complete an environmental audit of its facilities to look for pollution problems. Clean Air Muscatine will also be watching, making sure the company completes what it agreed to do.

"We're going to be around and monitoring what they're doing and seeing that it gets done," says Stanley.

As residents wait for a cleaner sun rise in Muscatine.

GPC has until next July to complete its coal to natural gas conversion.

The agreement with the state also sets additional deadlines for other air pollution control projects.

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