New Spill at AltEn Plant in Mead Has Environmental Groups Worried About "More of the Same"

Sept. 3, 2021, 4:14 p.m. ·

Map of spill at AltEn plant in Mead, Nebraska
A map from an incident report of the latest spill at the AltEn plant in Mead, Nebraska. (From Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy)

There’s been another spill at the AltEn plant in Mead, Nebraska, the scene of a larger spill in February. The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy confirms rainwater from a storm on Tuesday caused a containment berm to seep water from around what is known as “wet cake”, or piles of pesticide-contaminated seed corn. The water then moved into nearby culverts and a creek. Clean-up crews were able to contain the leak and pump nearly 2-million gallons of water back into a containment lagoon. Bill Thorson is the chair of the Mead Village Board.

“To me it doesn’t seem like it’s all that big of a deal considering until the DEE got out here in February, there was never a berm around any of it before. The storm water just leached wherever it needed go,” Thorson said. “This time they captured it and fixed the berm and took the storm water and pumped it to the lagoon.”

Groups concerned the spills are spreading pesticide contamination into drinking water sources and causing environmental damage say this is more of the same. Former State Senator Al Davis represents the Perivillon Group, a coalition of concerned citizens who want answers on AltEn and the clean-up there since the February spill.

“Now here we are several months later and we’re still dealing with spillage and what do they call it, non-contact water?” Davis asked. “Well, what is that? That water is going across land and picking up those contaminants when it goes on and escapes so how can you say it’s anything but more of the same.”

Seed companies are currently cleaning up the piles of contaminated wet cake and the AltEn plant has been closed for a number of months.