Saunders County problematic compost facility catches attention of national environmentalists

Published: Jan. 13, 2021 at 12:21 PM CST
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MEAD, Neb. (WOWT) - A seed-corn recycling facility is continuing to cause a stink among residents just west of the Omaha-metro area.

Pollution concerns have spread to environmental watchdogs in the United States and internationally.

The mounds of corn byproduct from ethanol production are just a mile out of sight for Jody Weible, but the frequent smell lets her know they’re still there.

“I want the pile out of there and I want no more, no more product. Not with potential chemicals in there,” said Jody.

In a recent British publication, which quotes from our story, an environmental watchdog claims the site uses seed corn coated with fungicides and insecticides.

Mead is just down the road and people living in and around the village hope their county board will give them a bigger voice in echoing their concerns about this grain waste pile and its effect on the environment.

Jody and Mead’s village board chairman asked the Saunders County board to find or adopt tougher regulations on the storage of the compost piles.

Bill Thorson the Mead Village Chairman said, “It’s not just at a community level anymore, it’s a nationwide level that’s really starting to open some eyes.”

But plant manager Scott Tingelhoff says Alten has always taken all environmental concerns seriously is working with the state to follow the rules and strives to be good stewards and good neighbors.

But what the county board can do is up in the air.

“What we can do if there are state laws that need to be looked into — we can do that,” said Doris Karloff, a Saunders County supervisor. “We’ll do whatever we can do as a county board,”

The plant manager claims the pile is substantially decreasing but until it’s all gone and long-term effects are known, neighbors like Jody will demand more oversight.

“We need someone who can tackle the issues and get resolution,” said Jody.

The state gave the plant a deadline of March first to clear all the grain compost piles, but the manager may be seeking an extension.

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy says this is an ongoing investigation. But the agency is working with all the tools available to make sure the facility returns to compliance.

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