Information and Updates for AltEn near Mead, Nebraska


Facility ID: 84069
Date last revised: November 14, 2022

This page is designed to keep the Mead community, Saunders County residents and interested citizens informed about significant activities related to the cleanup and mitigation actions at the AltEn ethanol facility.

Note: Older updates can be found below the Documents section.



NDEE approves emergency lagoon repairs — November 14, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) approved a Title 123 Construction Permit for wastewater works for AltEn.

This permit allows the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) to repair whales in the emergency lagoon liner, install gas venting and convert the lagoon into a work area to manage sludge from the wastewater treatment process.

The lagoon will no longer be used to store and manage wastewater, according to the permit application. Water generated from rainfall or from any future sludge management will be removed from the lagoon and sent to the treatment plant or to the southeast industrial lagoon.

Previously, the AFRG removed sludge from the emergency lagoon and relined the lagoon in the fall of 2021. Following the repairs, the emergency lagoon held wastewater from AltEn’s anerobic digester. That water was transferred to the facility’s southeast lagoon as part of ongoing water treatment.

The permit application can be viewed on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled “Construction,” filed on Nov. 4, 2022. The permit approval can be viewed in a document titled “Construction,” filed Nov. 7, 2022.

The AFRG is made up of six seed companies: AgReliant Genetics, LLC; Bayer U.S., LLC; Beck’s Superior Hybrids, LLC; Corteva Agriscience, LLC; Syngenta Seeds, LLC; and WinField Solutions, LLC. The group has enrolled in NDEE’s Voluntary Cleanup Program (VCP) to address environmental remediation at the AltEn site.



Public hearings, info session scheduled for wastewater RAP, individual industrial storm water permit — November 10, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) proposes to approve the AltEn Facility Response Group’s (AFRG) wastewater remedial action plan (RAP). NDEE also proposes to issue AltEn an individual industrial storm water (ISW) permit.

Both the wastewater RAP and the individual ISW permit are on public notice and open to public comment. NDEE has scheduled an information session and separate public hearings on the wastewater RAP and the ISW permit for Wednesday, Dec. 14, 2022, at the Mead High School gym. The schedule that evening is as follows:
  • 5 to 6 p.m. – information session
  • 6:30 p.m. – wastewater RAP public hearing
  • 7 p.m. or after the RAP hearing ends – individual ISW permit public hearing

The public may submit written comments separately on the wastewater RAP and the ISW permit on or before Dec. 13, 2022.

Wastewater RAP
The wastewater RAP includes how the AFRG proposes to treat wastewater at the AltEn site and land apply all the treated wastewater. It can be viewed on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled, “Remedial Action,” filed Oct. 14, 2022. A previous update on the wastewater RAP can be found in the Sept. 15, 2022, update.

Prior to final approval, the public can provide written comments on the wastewater RAP by submitting them to:
Tom Buell
Monitoring and Remediation Division
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
PO Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922
ndee.vcpbrownfields@nebraska.gov

Industrial Storm Water permit
The ISW permit outlines requirements necessary to reduce pollutants in stormwater runoff at the AltEn site. The permit and related documents can be found in the public records portal in documents titled “NPDES Industrial,” “Basis of Permit,” and “Intent to Issue Permit,” all filed Nov. 9, 2022. A previous update on AltEn’s industrial storm water permit application can be found in the Oct. 21, 2022, update.

Prior to final approval, written comments on the ISW permit may be sent to:
Kim Bubb
NPDES and State Permits Section
Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy
PO Box 98922
Lincoln, NE 68509-8922
npdes.ndee@nebraska.gov

Sites approved for fall land application — October 27, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has approved seven sites for land application of treated wastewater from the AltEn facility.

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) is authorized to begin applying treated wastewater on these sites. NDEE has directed the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) to apply the wastewater at rates that are protective of NDEE-approved pesticide thresholds, according to the land’s nutrient budget, and follows best management practices.

When approving sites, NDEE also considered the following requirements:

· Setbacks from waters of the state and other water bodies;
· Slope of the land;
· Setbacks from dwellings;
· Setbacks from potable water supplies, including community water supplies; and
· Depth to groundwater.

NDEE’s land application approval letter can be found in the public records portal in a document titled “Land Application Approval,” filed Oct. 25, 2022.

Additionally, the AFRG’s best management practices plan, prepared by Nutrient Advisors, can be found in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP)/Revised,” filed Oct. 21, 2022, and a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed Oct. 24, 2022.

An additional update on the AFRG’s Best Management Practices plan can be found in the Oct. 13, 2022, update.


NDEE receives industrial storm water permit application — October 21, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received an individual industrial storm water permit application from AltEn.

NDEE has determined AltEn has submitted a complete application for an individual industrial storm water permit. NDEE will propose to either modify AltEn’s existing NPDES permit (NE0137634) to include industrial storm water requirements or issue a separate individual storm water permit. AltEn’s existing NPDES permit allows for the land application of treated wastewater.

The proposed modification to the existing permit or the proposed issuance of a new permit will be put on public notice and NDEE will hold a public hearing to receive comments from the public prior to modification or issuance of a permit.

The individual industrial storm water permit application can be viewed on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “NPDES General Industrial Stormwater,” filed Oct. 11, 2022. NDEE’s letter stating AltEn’s application is complete can also be found on the public records portal in a document titled “Application Complete,” filed Oct. 18, 2022.

Because AltEn did not submit its individual industrial storm water permit application by its Sept. 28, 2022, deadline, it currently does not have coverage under a general or an individual industrial storm water permit.

Generally, storm water permits require a written storm water pollution prevention plan (SWPPP), implementation of storm water control measures, and collection of monitoring data.


NDEE approves amended land application approach — October 20, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has approved the revised “Proposed Land Application Approach for Management of Water from AltEn Site” document from the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG).

The AFRG submitted its proposed revisions to the land application approach on Sept. 23, 2022, and NDEE provided comments on Oct. 5, 2022. The AFRG revised its proposal based on NDEE’s comments on Oct. 11, 2022. These documents can be found in the agency’s public records portal as:
· “Land Application,” filed Sept. 23, 2022
· “Land Application/NDEE Response,” filed Oct. 5, 2022
· “Revised Land Application,” filed Oct. 11, 2022.

A previous update on this topic can be found on NDEE’s “Information and Updates for AltEn near Mead, Nebraska” webpage in an Oct. 4, 2022, update. NDEE’s approval of the land application approach is on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled “Revised Land Application/NDEE Response,” filed Oct. 18, 2022.

NDEE receives plan for land application — October 13, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received a best management practices (BMP) plan for land applying treated wastewater from the AltEn facility onto nearby agricultural land.

AltEn has an NPDES permit that allows the land application of treated wastewater, and this permit requires a BMP before land application events to ensure the treated wastewater is applied in an appropriate manner.

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) submitted the BMP on Oct. 4, 2022. It can be viewed on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed on Oct. 5, 2022.

The BMP outlines plans to apply approximately 20 million gallons of treated wastewater on seven fields near the AltEn facility. These seven fields total 736 acres.

NDEE has reviewed the BMP and provided comments. Those comments can be seen in the public records portal in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP)/NDEE Response,” filed Oct. 7, 2022.


NDEE receives groundwater sampling results — October 11, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received groundwater sampling results that were collected on Sept. 15, 2022, as part of a split sampling event with the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG).

Results from NDEE’s samples can be viewed in the public records portal in a document titled, “Sampling Results,” filed Oct. 7, 2022.

Results from this sampling event will be used for groundwater delineation of pesticides, ammonia and nitrates in groundwater at the AltEn site.

NDEE sampled three monitoring wells south of AltEn’s lagoons for pesticides, ammonia and nitrates. Pesticides were detected in the wells at levels below the Environmental Protection Agency’s drinking water benchmarks. Nitrates were also present in the wells, and ammonia was detected at low levels.


NDEE provides comments on wastewater remedial action plan — October 5, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has provided comments on the AltEn Facility Response Group’s (AFRG) wastewater remedial action plan (RAP).

The agency’s comments can be viewed on its public records portal in a document titled “Remedial Action/NDEE Response,” filed Oct. 3, 2022.

The AFRG now has the opportunity to address NDEE’s comments and resubmit the RAP. To read a full description of the public notice and comment procedures for a RAP, see the Oct. 28, 2021, update on NDEE’s AltEn Information Archive page.



Documents

DateAdministrative Order - Judicial Case
02/23/2022 - Administrative OrderAltEn LLC - 84069 - Case Nos 3540 3546 - Consent Order - Final
03/01/2021 -
Judicial Case
AltEn LLC - 84069 -Pleading - Complaint Filed 3-1-21
02/20/2021 - Administrative OrderAltEn LLC - 84069 - Case No. 3546 - EMERGENCY COMPLAINT AND ORDER
02/04/2021 - Administrative OrderAltEn, LLC 84069 Case No 3540 Emergency Order - Final





Past press releases
Older updates

NDEE receives proposal to amend land application approach — October 4, 2022

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) has proposed changes to its “Land Application Approach for Management of Water from AltEn Site.” The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) is reviewing the proposal.

The proposal can be viewed on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Land Application,” filed on Sept. 23, 2022.

The land application approach document describes how the AFRG determines its rate of application for treated wastewater from the AltEn facility. The proposed amendments do not change the facility’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit that was issued on June 29, 2022.

In its proposal, the AFRG requested to increase the application threshold for the fungicide thiabendazole. The single application threshold would increase from 0.26 grams/acre to 0.65 grams/acre. Annual application would be limited to 1.3 grams/acre.

According to the AFRG, its proposed single application threshold for thiabendazole is less than 1% of its registered use as a seed treatment for wheat and 50% of its registered use as a seed treatment for corn. The U.S. EPA determined this use was associated with acceptable risk to human health and ecological receptors.

Other changes include changing the land application reporting timeframe from a calendar year to an agronomic year and conducting weekly sampling of water entering the treated water lagoons on the AltEn site.


NDEE responds to AFRG’s Former East Wet Cake Area Grading Plan — September 16, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has reviewed and responded to the AltEn Facility Response Group’s (AFRG) Former East Wet Cake Area —Grading Plan.

NDEE’s response to the plan can be viewed in the public records portal in a document titled “East Wet Cake Area Grading Plan / NDEQ Response,” filed September 8, 2022. In it, the department requests that if AFRG implements this grading and capping plan as an interim action that they also include it in a future Remedial Action Plan (RAP) that is subject to public participation. Should AFRG implement the plan, NDEE also communicated that AFRG would be proceeding at its own risk.

AFRG’s proposed grading plan for the former east wet cake area was submitted to NDEE on August 12, 2022. It can be viewed in the public records portal in a document title “Grading Plan.”


NDEE receives proposed wastewater RAP from AFRG September 15, 2022

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received the proposed wastewater remedial action plan (RAP) from the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG).

The RAP can be viewed in the public records portal in a document titled, “Remedial Action,” filed September 12, 2022. In it, the AFRG proposes the treatment of all on-site wastewater at the AltEn facility. AFRG also proposes the continued land application of all treated wastewater.

NDEE will begin an internal review process of the wastewater RAP. Any comments that the department generates during this internal review will be submitted back to the AFRG, and the AFRG will have an opportunity to address those comments and resubmit the RAP. This initial review and response will happen before the proposed RAP is open for public comment. The proposed RAP is a public record and will be available to view during NDEE’s internal review and before public comment begins. Correspondence between NDEE and the AFRG regarding the proposed RAP also will be part of the public record and available to view.

If NDEE’s comments are addressed to its satisfaction, NDEE will then provide public notice of its intent to approve the RAP by publishing a legal notice in a local newspaper of general circulation near the affected area, as well as on the Agency website at the following link:
http://dee.ne.gov/Press.nsf/PNall.xsp. The public comment period will begin once the legal notice is published. The public comment period will remain open for thirty (30) days. During the public comment period, NDEE will take written comments from the public on the proposed RAP. NDEE will also hold a public hearing at which the public can testify. The date for the public hearing will be contained in the published legal notice. All written comments or testimony received by NDEE during the public comment period will become part of the public record.

Comments and testimony from the public submitted outside of the 30-day public comment period and public hearing may not be considered.

Following the public comment period and public hearing, NDEE will prepare a responsiveness summary to the public comments and testimony received during the 30-day public comment period and may request that the RAP be revised to address issues raised by the public.

After AFRG has a chance to respond to the responsiveness summary and/or revise the proposed RAP, NDEE will undertake a final review and, if satisfied, make a final decision on the proposed RAP.



Archived Updates can be found HERE