A judge has approved a class-action settlement between Muscatine, Iowa, residents and a local factory that blames them for a harmful odor and mist and for causing health problems.

District Judge John Telleen approved the settlement over the factory of Grain Processing Corporation, which makes products based on corn, reported The Muscatine Journal. The company, a subsidiary of Kent Corp. from Muscatine, agreed to pay $ 45 million to cover an estimated 14,000 claims and to spend $ 6.5 million on plant contamination inspections in Muscatine.

Residents challenged the company in 2012 for the accusation that the factory was negligent with the emissions and the smell was annoying. The case later got the class-action status.

GPC supports the settlement and believes it is fair, said Joshua Frank, a lawyer for the company. The company continues to operate successfully in the area, he said.

The scheme is groundbreaking due to the duration of coverage, complexity and value, said Sarah Siskind, a lawyer for residents. People who lived within a radius of 2.5 km from the plant between 24 April 2007 and 1 September 2017 may be eligible for payment.

Challenger Kelcey Brackett said he was happy with the settlement.

"I think this is probably the fairest outcome of the case, as the court stated at the hearing," he said. "And I think this is a way for GPC and the community to work together."

Brackett said he has already seen improvements, noting that GPC invested $ 83 million in upgrades during the lawsuit.

"I know I've seen fewer odors in the area," he said, "and I want to keep seeing that."

Residents have until 19 March to file a claim and can receive $ 2000 to $ 16,000 depending on where they live.

Up to $ 2 million of money left after the payout will be placed in a community fund for neighborhood improvements, Frank said.

Copyright 2019 Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.

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