Nebraska leaders skeptical about cleanup of solid waste from AltEn in Mead

Concerns are growing over the transport and cleanup of toxic waste from the former AltEn plant in Mead.
Published: May. 26, 2023 at 6:51 PM CDT
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MEAD, Neb. (WOWT) - A year after shutting down, the ALtEn ethanol plant in Mead, Neb. finalized a pilot study work plan to determine the best way to dispose of 99,000 tons of hazardous corn waste that contaminated the environment.

Contractors started cleaning up solids Thursday, but despite progress being made, state leaders aren’t satisfied with the plan.

About 8,000 tons of trash, unused materials and piles of soil are moving from the former ethanol plant south of Mead to the Pheasant Point Landfill near Bennington.

It’s a process the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy expects to take four to six weeks.

“So, it’s very concerning that it’s already going to one landfill,” said Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue.

Alten’s Facility Response Group still has yet to figure out a place to dispose of the pesticide-contaminated waste known as “wet cake.”

They expect to solidify it and haul it by the end of year.

“People may not be aware that the wet cake is poisonous because of coated seed corn which was neonicotinoid-coated, that’s [a chemical] been banned in many countries.”>

Sen. Carol Blood believes the plan is detrimental to the environment.

Along with the wastewater that leaked from the facility and contaminated the town’s waters, this “wet cake” remains piled outside the facility and exposed to the atmosphere.

“So, what we’re doing is moving the problem from one community to another community,” Blood said.

However, AFRG promises it will “safely transport” the waste. Blood is happy to see the progress, but remains skeptical.

“I’m going to continue to say much of this is too little and too late and the long-term consequences have yet to be revealed,” Blood said.