What Time Does University Of Iowa Football Play Today Is A SoyChlor Plant Killing Animals, People, And Children In Jefferson Iowa?

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Is A SoyChlor Plant Killing Animals, People, And Children In Jefferson Iowa?

On October 28, 2005, over 250 residents of Jefferson, Iowa, represented by the attorneys at LaMarca & Landry, PC, filed a lawsuit against West Central Cooperative in the Iowa District Court for Greene County. The parties to this lawsuit are homeowners, business owners and people who work in nearby workplaces, such as MicroSoi, Electroluk and American Concrete.

Causes of action include nuisance, negligence, obstruction, res ipsa loquitur, and strict liability for doing an abnormally dangerous activity. The claims stem from a number of environmental and health changes that have occurred since West Central Cooperative’s plant in Jefferson, Iowa, began operations on February 14, 2005. These problems essentially stem from emissions of hydrogen chloride, hydrochloric acid, and particulate matter from the soy chlorine plant. containing one or both of these chemicals. Soy Chlorine is a patented dairy feed additive that combines hydrochloric acid with a soy product.

The lawsuit also alleges violations of West Central Cooperative’s IDNR operating permit for the facility, as well as violations of the Hazardous Chemical Hazard Act and other environmental laws and applicable standards of care.

West Central opened a business – SoiChlor – in February. Since then, emissions from the plant have corroded metal buildings and other property within a mile of the plant, the lawsuit said. The emissions also killed grass and other vegetation, eliminated wildlife, destroyed windows and discolored surrounding structures and roadway rocks, prosecutors allege.

Prosecutors claim the plant 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 clear as day, from my front window,” said Jeb Ball, owner of a used car business just west of the SoiChlor plant on Jefferson’s north side. “I have to watch it every day.”

“We think we’re in compliance now,” said Neil Ramsbottom, vice president of soy and feed operations at Ralston-based West Central, but added that the company plans to increase the height of SoiChlor’s emissions tower to 94 feet to disperse emissions more widely and 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 the plant’s emissions meet legal limits.

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

Dave Phelps, who oversees the DNR division that oversees such permits, said the department is prepared to approve the company’s request, but also expects there to be a public hearing and public hearing on the issue this month. He also said recent tests showed dust emissions from the plant exceeded the limit allowed by state law.

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

Ball, the owner of a used car business, said Monday that his son, Colton Conroy, 15, is sickened by soy chlorine emissions. A month ago, a sophomore collapsed at a football game, and the treating doctor blamed soy chlorine emissions for health problems that first appeared after the plant opened.

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

“He was able to run and play football and everything a year ago and he didn’t have any problems,” Ball said.

SoiChlor uses hazardous materials, including hydrogen chloride, to make a patented product that is added to the feed of dairy cows. Hydrogen chloride is a harmful gas that can be toxic to humans and animals.

When it mixes with moisture, it becomes hydrochloric acid, a highly corrosive substance capable of eating away at motor vehicle finishes, shattering glass and killing wildlife and vegetation — all of which, residents say, has occurred in the “drop zone,” an area stretching a mile or more. in every direction from the plant. Gas, acid, and particles contaminated with gas or acid are emitted through a chimney located on top of a concrete tower at the north end of the facility.

“In Iowa, when you live in a community this size, you accept it because it’s agriculture,” said Jeff Ostendorf, a cattle producer in Jefferson who works at MicroSoy Corp., a soy-based food ingredients maker located across the street from SoiChlor. “This is different.”

Bonnie Burkhardt lives south of SoiChlor, across the street. One day last week, she flipped through notebooks and three-ring binders in which she carefully tracked communications about the dispute with public officials, company officials and others in the community.

One notebook details the potentially harmful effects of the toxic substances used by SoiChlor, along with reports from doctors treating Burkhardt and others who say they have suffered health problems this year.

The once lively children now sleep too much and quickly run out of energy, families say. Colton Conroy, a 15-year-old who pushed more than 6 feet, got bloated easily and started losing weight, his mother said. Adults with respiratory problems, including Norma Gross and Ron Lawton, said they got better with medical treatments, but now say they’ve gotten worse.

Last year, Gross was doing well, despite a chronic lung disease. But after SoiChlor opened up, she quickly lost her footing, struggling to breathe. Her doctors at University Hospitals in Iowa City, where she was participating in a research project, urged her to move away, she said. But she lives for life, and she and her husband raised 10 children here. Gross doesn’t want to live anywhere else.

Also alarming to Gross and Burkhardt is the loss of wildlife. Gone are the pigeons that once perched on tall grain storage structures north of the SoiChlor plant, they said. Gone are the blue jays, cardinals, goldfinches and other birds that sat at the many feeders in Gross’s yard. She hadn’t seen the bird in weeks.

“It was like all of a sudden there were no more birds, not even a sparrow,” said Gross, who lives in a tidy trailer park a mile from the plant.

In addition, stains appeared on the finish of vehicles and on the siding of houses and other buildings, even on mailboxes.

Jefferson residents said insurer West Central has hired a Florida firm to clean vehicles affected by the emissions. They also said the insurer offered checks of up to several hundred dollars to residents claiming property damage, although the recipients had to sign a form releasing the co-op and its subsidiaries from further claims.

Burkhardt said she first noticed something was wrong when her skin burned while working in a flower garden. Eventually, it led her into the house, where she would take a shower to stop the burning. That was last spring, after she spent a few months in Florida with her husband, Chuck.

At the same time, Arletta Tassler and her husband returned from a winter in Texas. Both developed a cough that lasted for months, they said. Sometimes, Tassler says, she coughed so hard she threw up.

Like Burkhardt, the Tasslers had no idea of ​​the cause.

Burkhardt and her friend Diane Conroy talked to neighbors and people who work in nearby businesses. Within a mile of Burkhardt’s home, they found dozens of people with similar symptoms. They first noticed a strange smell, like the smell from a bag of empty beer cans left in the hot sun for a day, Conroy said.

Then came the health problems. Then stains on vehicles and buildings. Then the film on the windows and windshields that scrubbing couldn’t remove. And some noticed that their glasses were cracked.

The women searched the Internet for information about SoiChlor and the chemicals it used.

The more they learned, the more convinced they became that SoiChlor was the culprit.

“If you get this in your driveway, if it’s cracked, think about what it’s doing to your lungs,” said Tassler, who lives with her 49-year-old husband, Shorty, on the property east of the plant where they raised their eight children.

Burkhardt, Conroy and others contacted the city’s sanitation chief, the public health nurse and the editor of the local newspaper. They began contacting the government — environmental and safety regulators, Iowa’s U.S. senators, even the White House.

Conroy and her husband, Jeb Ball, contacted their attorney in Des Moines. He referred them to George LaMarca, another Des Moines attorney. LaMarca knew how deadly hydrogen chloride could be. The gas incapacitated some of the victims in Des Moines’ deadliest fire ever, which engulfed the Yonkers store in the Merle High Mall on Nov. 5, 1978. LaMarca represented the surviving victims in the years-long lawsuit that ultimately resulted in an undisclosed settlement for the plaintiffs.

He has only five words for the cooperative: “We want the factory to close.”

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