Is A Soychlor Plant Killing Animals People And Children In Jefferson Iowa

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On October 28, 2005, over 250 residents of Jefferson, Iowa, represented by attorneys from LaMarca & Landry, P.C., filed suit against West Central Cooperative in the Iowa District Court for Greene County. The parties to this lawsuit include homeowners, business owners and persons who work at nearby places of employment, such as MicroSoy, Electrolux and American Concrete.

The causes of action include nuisance, negligence, trespass, res ipsa loquitur, and strict liability for carrying on an abnormally dangerous activity. The claims stem from numerous environmental and health changes which have occurred since West Central Cooperative’s Jefferson, Iowa Soy Chlor plant began its operations on February 14, 2005. These problems stem essentially from the Soy Chlor’s plant emission of hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid and particulate matter containing one or both of these chemicals. Soy Chlor is a patented dairy cattle feed supplement which combines hydrochloric acid with soy product.

The lawsuit also alleges violation of West Central Cooperative’s IDNR operating permit for this plant, as well as violations of the hazardous chemical risk law and other environmental laws and applicable standards of care.

West Central opened the business – SoyChlor – in February. Since then, emissions from the plant have corroded metal buildings and other property within a mile of the plant, the lawsuit alleges. Emissions also have killed grass and other vegetation, eliminated wildlife, ruined windows and discolored surrounding structures and roadway rock, plaintiffs contend.

The plaintiffs claim that the plant has exceeded legal limits for emissions of both hydrogen chloride and “particulate matter,” or dust. When combined with moisture, the chemical turns into hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive substance known to be toxic to humans and animals.

“It’s plain as day, right from my front window,” said Jeb Ball , owner of a used car business west of the SoyChlor plant on Jefferson’s north side. “I have to look at it every day.”

“We think we’re in compliance now,” Nile Ramsbottom , vice president for soy and nutrition operations at Ralston-based West Central said, but he added that the company plans to increase the height of SoyChlor’s emissions tower to 94 feet to more widely disperse emissions and to dilute their presence on the ground. West Central also plans to install an additional scrubbing system, Ramsbottom said, adding that those combined steps would be more than enough to ensure that plant emissions meet legal limits .

The company has asked the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, which oversees manufacturing plant emissions, to allow the changes.

Dave Phelps , who supervises the DNR section that oversees such permits, said the department was prepared to grant the company’s request, but he also expects there to be a public comment period and public hearing about the matter this month . He also said recent testing showed the plant’s dust emission rate exceeded the limit allowed by state law.

George LaMarca, a Des Moines lawyer representing plaintiffs in the case, said a public hearing and the opportunity for public input are good steps, but ones that should have been taken before the plant was opened.

Ball, the owner of the used car business, said Monday that his son, Colton Conroy , 15, has been sickened by SoyChlor emissions. A month ago, the high school sophomore collapsed at a football game, and a treating physician blamed SoyChlor emissions for health problems that first emerged after the plant opened.

Since his collapse, the teenager has lived with his maternal grandparents, south of town, and his symptoms have subsided, said Ball and his wife, Diane Conroy.

“He could run track and play football and everything a year ago, and had no problems whatsoever,” Ball said.

SoyChlor uses hazardous materials, including hydrogen chloride, to make a patented product added to feed for dairy cows. Hydrogen chloride is a noxious gas that can be toxic to humans and animals.

When mixed with moisture, it becomes hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive substance capable of eating through motor vehicle finish, pitting glass, and killing wildlife and vegetation


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