Information and Updates for AltEn near Mead, Nebraska


Facility ID: 84069
Date last revised: May 24, 2024

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 receives AFRG's lagoon subsoil sample results - May 24, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received results from soil samples collected beneath the northwest wastewater lagoon at the AltEn Facility.

Sample results can be found on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled, “Sampling Results,” filed May 13, 2024.

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) collected soil samples as part of its work to relieve gas bubbles in the northwest lagoon liner. NDEE collected split samples during this effort and its sampling results can also be found in the public records portal in a document titled “Sampling Results,” filed April 30, 2024. The agency is currently reviewing the sample results from the AFRG.

Soil samples were collected in March 2024,r and are meant to determine migration potential of pesticides from the northwest lagoon’s water and solids, as well as to compare data to the results of soil samples collected beneath the consolidated wet cake pile. This data will be used to establish site-specific soil screening levels for groundwater protection.

More information on the AFRG’s plan to address gas bubbles and collect soil samples can be seen in the February 16, 2024, update below titled “AFRG submits plans to address ‘gas whales’ in northwest lagoon.”

Information on the soil sampling from beneath the wet cake pile can be seen in the following updates:
· AFRG notifies NDEE of wetcake excavation – November 9, 2023
· NDEE receives subsurface soil sample results – January 5, 2024
· NDEE receives AFRG’s wetcake subsoil characterization report – May 8, 2024



NDEE receives plan to remove northeast lagoon liner - May 10, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy has received a plan from the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) that it plans to remove the liner from the AltEn Facility’s northeast wastewater lagoon. This action is not intended as a final closure of the lagoon.

The plan can be found on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Removal Action Plan,” filed May 2, 2024.

In the plan, the AFRG states removing the liner is a safety measure to avoid it blowing out of the lagoon during high winds. Water that remains in the northeast lagoon would be transferred to the southeast wastewater lagoon. The liner would be cut into pieces and staged in the lagoon to be profiled, transported and disposed at a permitted facility.

AFRG also states remaining solids would be consolidated on the north side of the northeast lagoon, where they will be bermed and drained to sumps. The solids would then be covered in Posi-shell or tackifier to prevent dust migration.

NDEE reviewed the notice and provided comments to the AFRG. NDEE’s comments are available on the public records portal in a document titled “Work Plan Comments,” filed May 7, 2024.



NDEE receives AFRG's wetcake subsoil characterization report - May 8, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received additional results from soil samples collected beneath the consolidated wetcake pile at the AltEn Facility.

The sample results can be found on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled “Soil Sampling Results,” filed April 29, 2024.

NDEE collected split samples from the AltEn Facility Response Group’s (AFRG) primary samples on Nov. 28 and 29, 2023, in an excavated portion of the wetcake pile. NDEE received its sample results earlier this year (see more in the Jan. 5, 2024, update below). The results received most recently are the AFRG’s portion of the samples collected.

Soil samples were collected to help determine site-specific soil screening levels and to help delineate the extent of pesticides from the wetcake to the underlying soil.

NDEE is currently reviewing the recent sample results.



NDEE receives notice of continuation of solid waste pilot study - April 16, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) received a notice from the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) that it plans to continue its solid waste pilot study.

The notice can be found on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled “Pilot Study,” filed April 11, 2024.

The purpose of this study is to obtain data on the feasibility of taking wetcake from AltEn to an off-site, permitted landfill.

The AFRG first began its solid waste pilot project in May 2023 by removing non-wetcake materials; the pilot study pivoted to removing wetcake in the fall of 2023. Work on the pilot study was paused in November 2023 because of winter weather.

The AFRG plans to restart the pilot this spring and re-implement site controls to secure loads, manage stormwater, avoid tracking material out off site, and conduct air monitoring.


The final schedule for the pilot is still being developed, but it is expected to last 5 to 6 weeks once it begins. The AFRG’s notice states trucks will not transport material on Sundays or during community events.

Previous updates on the pilot study can be seen below, or on the Archive of Information and Updates for AltEn page.



NDEE approves sites for spring 2024 land application - March 13, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has approved six 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 AFRG to apply the treated wastewater according to the land’s nutrient budget, at rates that follow the NDEE-approved pesticide thresholds, and follow best management practices.

When approving sites, NDEE also considers 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.

The document that includes the approved sites can be found in NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed March 6, 2024. NDEE’s approval is in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed March 7, 2024.

The AFRG’s initial proposal for spring land application is also in the public records portal in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed Feb. 13, 2024. NDEE provided comments prior to receiving and approving the final Best Management Practices plan for Spring 2024 land application.

Additional information on the AFRG’s Best Management Practices plan can be found in a Feb. 22, 2024, update.



NDEE approves amended land application approach - March 6, 2024

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 Feb. 7, 2024, and NDEE approved the revisions on March 1, 2024. Both the revised land application approach and NDEE’s approval can be found on the agency’s public records portal in the following documents:
· “Land Application,” Feb. 7, 2024
· “Land Application Approval,” March 1, 2024

NDEE provided comments to the AFRG’s revised proposal prior to approval. The approved revised land application approach that incorporates NDEE’s comments is available in the public records portal in a document titled “Land Application,” filed Feb. 28, 2024.

A previous update on this topic can be found on NDEE’s “Information and Updates for AltEn near Mead, Nebraska” webpage in a Feb. 26, 2024, update.



AFRG to install additional monitoring wells - March 6, 2024

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) plans to install five additional groundwater monitoring wells on site to expand the groundwater monitoring network.

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) received the AFRG’s plan on Feb. 21, 2024. The plan can be viewed on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Monitoring Work Plan,” filed Feb. 21, 2024.

The plan states the AFRG will install five groundwater monitoring wells along the AltEn property’s southern and eastern boundaries. These wells will be downgradient of most of the existing monitoring wells.

NDEE has reviewed the plan and did not have any comments. The AFRG plans to have the wells installed in time for its quarterly sampling, scheduled for the week of March 11. NDEE’s correspondence on the plan is available on the public records portal in a document titled “Work Plan Comments,” filed March 1, 2024.



NDEE receives revised land application proposal - February 26, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received a revised land application approach from the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG).

The revised land application approach can be viewed on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Land Application,” filed Feb. 7, 2024.

The proposed revisions clarify that glyphosate and prothioconozole testing is not required for on-farm soil and provide an additional method to evaluate treated water data prior to land application to account for different treatment scenarios.

NDEE is reviewing the proposed revisions.

The land application approach document describes how the AFRG determines its rate of application for treated wastewater from the AltEn facility. The proposed revisions do not change the facility’s National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permits.




NDEE receives plan for spring land application - February 22, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received a best management practices (BMP) plan for applying treated wastewater from the AltEn facility onto nearby agricultural land in the spring of 2024.

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

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) submitted the BMP plan for spring application on Feb. 13, 2024. It can be viewed on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed on Feb. 13, 2024.

The BMP plan, if approved, would allow the application of approximately 11.96 million gallons of treated wastewater on seven sites near the AltEn facility. These seven sites total 677.55 acres.

The agency is currently reviewing the BMP plan.



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

AFRG submits plan to address "gas whales" in northwest lagoon - February 16, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received a plan from the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) to relieve gas bubbles in the facility’s northwest wastewater lagoon liner and to collect soil samples in that area.

The plan is available on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Sampling Work Plan,” filed Feb. 7, 2024. This work is expected to begin in mid- to late-February 2024.

The AFRG intends to install access roads into the northwest lagoon to lance three whales. “Whales” is a term used to described bubbles in the lagoon liner caused by trapped gas. The AFRG has pumped wastewater from the northwest lagoon, as described in its sump plan. The sump plan is available on the public records portal in a document titled “Site Plan,” filed Aug. 24, 2023.

The plan for lancing the whales states the AFRG will evaluate and develop a methodology for addressing the remaining whales in the lagoon based on this effort. During the lancing, the AFRG plan states air monitoring equipment will be set up to provide real-time data for methane, hydrogen sulfide, and ammonia for worker safety.

The AFRG also plans to collect subsoil samples from beneath the lagoon liner during this project. It plans to collect subsoil samples from five locations within the lagoon to obtain pesticide data and other information to calculate site-specific soil screening levels for the protection of groundwater.



NDEE receives subsurface soil sample results - January 5, 2024

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has received results from soil samples collected beneath the consolidated wetcake pile at the AltEn facility.

The sample results can be found on the agency’s public records portal in a document titled, “Technical Review,” filed Dec. 22, 2023. Due to a typographical error in the footnotes in Table 2, a revised version of this report is also on the public records portal in a document titled, "Technical Review," filed Jan. 22, 2024.*

NDEE’s contractor EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., PBC, collected split soil samples with the AltEn Facility Response group (AFRG) on Nov. 28 and 29, 2023. NDEE’s split samples were only a portion of all samples collected. Soil samples were collected to determine site-specific soil screening levels and to delineate the extent of pesticides from the wetcake to the underlying soil.

The AFRG’s subsoil characterization work plan can also be found on the public records portal in a document titled “Remedial Action Work Plan,” dated Aug. 11, 223. NDEE provided comments on this plan, which are also available on the public records portal in a document titled “Work Plan Comments,” dated Sept. 20, 2023.

In November, the AFRG excavated a portion of the wetcake to collect these soil samples. Information on the excavation can be seen in the Nov. 9, 2023, update below.

*This information was updated on Jan. 24, 2024.



NDEE clarifies August groundwater monitoring sample results - December 20, 2023

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) would like to clarify its August 2023 groundwater monitoring sample results.

In the recent past, NDEE used Matrix Sciences, Pacific Agricultural Lab (PAL) in Oregon for all samples related to the AltEn site. PAL reports sample results in micrograms/liter (µg/l), or parts per billion. For the August groundwater sampling, however, NDEE utilized Weck Lab in California, which reports sample results in nanograms/liter (ng/l), or parts per trillion.

To covert from parts per trillion (ppt) to parts per billion (ppb), divide by 1,000. In other words, 1,000 ppt is equal to 1 ppb. For example, the August groundwater monitoring sample results showed 36,000 ppt for clothianidin, which converts to 36 ppb, and 400,000 ppt for thiamethoxam, which converts to 400 ppb.

During the August sampling, NDEE’s contractor, EA Engineering, Science, and Technology, Inc., PBC, collected split samples from a portion of the AltEn monitoring wells. This means EA and the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) collected separate samples, which were sent to separate labs for analysis.

Results from the August groundwater monitoring sampling are available on NDEE’s public records portal. EA’s sampling report can be viewed in a file titled “Sampling Work Plan,” filed Oct. 25, 2023, with an addendum titled “Sampling,” filed Nov. 15, 2023. The AFRG’s results can be found in a document titled “Sampling Results,” filed Oct. 11, 2023.



AFRG completes solids disposal pilot study - November 29, 2023

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) completed the second phase of its solids disposal pilot study on Saturday, Nov. 18.

The AFRG sent the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) weekly progress summaries during the pilot study. In total, the AFRG hauled more than 10,200 tons of wetcake and other materials to a permitted off-site landfill over the course of eight weeks. All summaries can be viewed on the agency’s public records portal in files titled “Progress Report.” The final summary was filed Nov. 20, 2023.

The purpose of this pilot study was to obtain data on the feasibility of taking the wetcake from the AltEn facility to a permitted landfill. The AFRG will use this information to develop its solids remedial action plan.



AFRG notifies NDEE of wetcake excavation - November 9, 2023

The AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) has notified the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) that it is excavating into the site’s consolidated wetcake pile. This excavation is taking place so the AFRG can sample soil that is currently under the wetcake.

The excavation work began around Nov. 4. A memo from the AFRG states that work will continue through Nov. 18, 2023, with the sampling taking place in late November 2023. This memo can be found on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Technical Review,” filed Nov. 7, 2023.

The memo states corridors will be excavated through the wetcake starting at the southeast corner of the consolidated pile. One corridor will progress north for 362 feet, and the second will progress northwest for 509 feet. Some of the wetcake will be processed for use in the AFRG’s solids disposal pilot project. The rest will be placed on top of the current wetcake pile and covered with posi-shell at the end of each work week.

To read more about the AFRG’s wetcake subsoil characterization work plan, see the Aug. 21, 2023, update below. More information on the AFRG’s solids disposal pilot study, see the Sept. 25, 2023, update below.



NDEE approves additional sites for fall 2023 land application - October 26, 2023

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) has approved the second of two best management practices (BMP) plans for the fall 2023 land application of treated wastewater from the AltEn facility.

The BMP can be viewed on NDEE’s public records portal in a document titled “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed Oct. 14, 2023. Additional information can be found in a document titled “Additional Land Application Sites,” filed Oct. 6, 2023.

NDEE approved a previous BMP earlier this month. Information on this first BMP can be viewed in the Oct. 17, 2023, update.

This additional BMP authorizes the AltEn Facility Response Group (AFRG) to begin applying water from the east treated wastewater lagoon to 9 sites.

NDEE has directed the AFRG to apply the wastewater according to the land’s nutrient budget, at rates that follow the NDEE-approved pesticide thresholds, and follow best management practices.

When approving sites, NDEE also considered the following requirements:
· Setbacks from waters of the state;
· Slope of the land;
· Setbacks from dwellings;
· Setbacks from potable water supply wells, 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, “Best Management Practices (BMP),” filed on Oct. 24, 2023.



Archived Updates can be found HERE