Residents within a 2-mile radius of the Protein Solutions rendering plant in southeast Joplin are eligible to file a claim toward a proposed $975,000 settlement of a class action lawsuit over odors emitted by the operation.
Protein Solutions, located at 3800 E. 32nd St., makes chicken additives for pet food. It has been the subject of a number of odor complaints made to city and state authorities, and of subsequent investigations over several years.
Currently the plant is operating under a letter of warning issued by the Missouri Department of Natural Resources because of the odors, said Tanya Turner, environment supervisor for the air and land unit at the DNR's southwest regional office in Springfield.
Another nearby manufacturer, Hampshire Pet Products, also is operating under a letter of warning.
Though the DNR is working with the two companies as they make modifications to their odor control technologies and equipment to try to address the issue, the DNR is not part of the lawsuit, Turner said.
The lawsuit was filed in March 2019 in Jasper County Circuit Court. Named plaintiffs are Gary Colson, John Ochoa and Janet Ochoa, all of whom live near the Protein Solutions plant.
The suit states the plant has emitted noxious odors for at least 10 years and that the company does not operate it properly to collect, capture and destroy the odors so that it is not a nuisance to other properties.
The lawsuit states more than 100 odor complaints were filed with the city and state by nearby residents in recent years. About 1,000 residents signed a petition that was submitted to the city of Joplin in March 2018 seeking better monitoring of the plant's emissions.
The company has been cited by the Missouri DNR at least three times, the lawsuit states
"Protein Solutions is improving one of the odor technologies and is looking at another," said Turner, the DNR representative. Heartland also is looking at its processes with the intent to improve odor emissions, she said.
Attorneys for the plaintiffs said in the petition that about 60 other residents have come forward to join the lawsuit and they believe there are many others who will come forward.
Those who are eligible to be added are those who have already submitted claim forms as well as renters and residential property owners who have lived within the 2-mile radius since March 15, 2014. New claims must be filed by Oct. 5.
Attorneys representing Protein Solutions did not return a telephone message seeking comment on behalf of the company. There was no answer at the plant's telephone.
The judge granted the preliminary settlement approval on Aug. 13, though there will have to be final approval by the court before any settlement funds can be distributed.
Residents who want more information or claim forms can find that online at https://www.ldclassaction.com/class-action/protein-solutions-llc-settlement.