State Sues Ethonol Plant Operator in Mead, Says Company Has Ignored Environmental Warnings

March 1, 2021, 1:50 p.m. ·

Nebraska Attorney General Doug Peterson. (Photo by NET News via Zoom)

The State of Nebraska has filed a lawsuit against an ethanol plant just outside of Mead in Saunders County that has failed to clean up a huge pile of contaminated seed corn. Attorney General Doug Peterson announced the 97-page civil lawsuit that contains 18 complaints against AltEn and asks to company to comply with the state’s environmental laws.

“To me it’s one of the clear cases of a corporation coming in and failing to be a good partner with the environmental standards that we have in Nebraska and when they fail to comply with clear directives they leave us no other alternative but to come in and file this type of lawsuit,” Peterson said at a news conference on Monday.

Residents in Mead are concerned the contaminated seed corn used in the ethanol production process will eventually affect their drinking water supply. AltEn had until Monday to move the pile of seed corn and so far only a small portion has been moved.

“We always try to get compliance first through working with facilities and telling facilities what they need to do to maintain compliance,” said Jim Macy, Director of the Nebraska Department of Environment of Energy. “But at the end of the day if the facility does not choose to do the right thing, then we have other tools in the toolbox and this is the one we’ve used with AltEn.

The company also had pipes freeze at the same plant on February 12th, which caused a tank to rupture and release waste. In a written statement Monday, AltEn said it had not had the opportunity to process the state's lawsuit yet and was doing what it could to mitigate contamination at its site.