Iowa ethanol plant receives notification of violation from EPA

By Holly Jessen | March 28, 2012

Grain Processing Corp., which produces 10 MMgy ethanol in Muscatine, Iowa, has received a notification of violation from the U.S. EPA, alleging that the company violated the Iowa State Implementation Plan and the federal Clean Air Act for issues related to construction and operating permits.

This is separate from a civil lawsuit filed by the Iowa attorney general in December, according to an EPA press release. That lawsuit alleges the ethanol plant violated the state’s air pollution laws.

The EPA alleges that the facility repeatedly violated limits on air emissions opacity between 2007 and 2011. Those emission limits were set in the company’s 1995 amended construction permit and its 2003 operating permit. In addition, the EPA alleges the company failed to notify the Iowa Department of Natural Resources of air emission exceedances as well as failing to address the issue in its annual compliance certifications in 2007 through 2011. No penalties have been addressed but the EPA is considering enforcement actions, including possible penalties, the press release said.

In addition to the notice of violation, the company has received an official request for information. GPC has 15 days to submit details of its compliance with the Facility Response Plan requirements and Spill Prevention and Countermeasures Control requirements of the federal Clean Water Act.

In response to a request for additional information, Janet Sichterman, corporate spokesperson, told EPM the company was unable to comment until it had reviewed the information from the EPA. However, according to a May 2011 press release, GPC broke ground on a project to “significantly reduce emissions while improving operational productivity.” By 2015 the company expects to complete two projects to install a grain dryer and update environmental control systems for its boilers. At that time, the company said total emissions would be reduced by 72 percent compared to current levels, once both improvements were fully operational, and that additional system improvements for further emission reductions were planned.

GCP is a manufacturer of corn-based products, according to the company website. Besides ethanol, the company produces and markets products for the food, pharmaceutical and personal care markets as well as starches for the paper, corrugated box, textile and wallboard industries. The company’s ethanol is also sold worldwide for use in beverage ethanol, including vodka, gin and other alcohols.

The wet mill production facility also produces corn gluten meal in several forms, including wet, loose and dry pellets, as well as condensed distillery solids for liquid feed applications. Other products include hexane-free crude corn oil and whole kernel corn germ.

GPC is a wholly owned subsidiary of Muscatine Foods Corp., which the company announced March 26 it was renaming Kent Corp. The company’s headquarters are moving to a new building in Muscatine as well, meaning about 140 employees of Kent Corp., Kent Nutrition Group-Feed and Kent Nutrition Group-Pet will move from the existing space at the facility where ethanol and other products are produced. About 580 GPC employees will continue working at the original location in offices, laboratories, research facilities and the production plant. GPC also operates a facility that produces 20 MMgy ethanol in Washington, Ind.