Seed Companies Submit Plan to Clean-Up AltEn Plant Contamination in Mead, Nebraska

Nov. 3, 2021, 4 p.m. ·

An aerial map of the AltEn ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska
An aerial map of the AltEn ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska that's part of a plan to clean-up contamination at the site. (Photo from Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy)

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Former seed corn suppliers to the now-shuttered AltEn ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska have submitted a detailed plan on how they will clean-up pesticide-contaminated waste and water at the site.

The 111-page remedial action plan was submitted to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy earlier this week by the AltEn Facility Response Group. It’s made up of six different seed companies who used to supply the plant with seed corn used in the ethanol production process. The plan is part of the Nebraska Voluntary Cleanup Program and does not include AltEn, which ceased operations in Mead in February. Former State Senator Al Davis is part of the Perivallon Group, an organization monitoring the clean-up of the former plant.

“I just think the scope of the issue is so massive that this plan probably doesn’t really address all the issues that need to be looked at,” Davis said.

The report says 250,000 cubic yards of so-called “wetcake”, what’s left over when the seed corn is processed, still has to be removed, along with millions of gallons of pesticide-contaminated water in several lagoons at the site. The plan also suggests some of the cleaned water from the plant could be used on nearby farm fields.

“I’m not sure if I were an agriculturist in that area, I’d want that water spread on my property,” Davis said. “What is the answer? Is it pollute, dilute, and then distribute? Is that what we’re going to be doing, because that’s not a palatable answer to me.”

The proposed plan is under review by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy, which will likely make changes and send it back to the seed companies, who will then re-submit a final plan, a process that will include a public comment period.