- Associated Press - Thursday, September 24, 2015

DES MOINES, Iowa (AP) - Neighbors of a soybean processing plant in Des Moines are expressing their concerns over plans to expand the facility, which already is the largest producer of hazardous air pollution in Polk County.

Some residents, who are worried about the health risks associated with the toxic emissions and particulates released by Archer Daniels Midland, submitted questions this month to the Iowa Department of Natural Resources, and sought an extension to the comment period on the plant expansion plans.

“What is the impact on the neighborhood, on our children with an elementary school blocks away?” said Marlon Mormann, an attorney and president of a northeast Des Moines neighborhood coalition. “We don’t have enough information. We don’t have enough time.”

Garton Elementary School and Luther Park Campus senior living community each are located less than a mile from the plant. A flea market, a food-testing facility, several automotive-related businesses and two residential neighborhoods also are nearby.

The agency this week denied their request to extend the 30-day comment period, even though neighborhood leaders argue that they didn’t know about the company’s plans until a day before a public information session and two days before the comment period ended, the Des Moines Register (https://dmreg.co/1Fi0hq8 ) reported.

“As the state we’ve met all of our legal obligations and we sent all the legal notices we’re required to do,” Department of Natural Resources environmental engineer Chris Roling said, adding that residents should receive answers to their questions this week.

In a statement meant as a response to the residents’ concerns, Archer Daniels Midland said it has followed the permitting process required by the state.

“These modifications will increase the amount of soybeans purchased from local farmers, enhance the facility’s economic viability and improve the energy efficiency of the plant, all without adding to the existing facility’s footprint,” company spokeswoman Jackie Anderson said.

The plant was the third-largest producer of air pollutants in Iowa last year, according to Department of Natural Resources data.


Information from: The Des Moines Register, https://www.desmoinesregister.com

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