|Discharge cleanup continues near Mead
The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy Director Jim Macy issued an Emergency Order and Complaint requiring immediate action on the discharge that took place Feb. 12 at the AltEn ethanol facility in Mead.
Macy issued the order and complaint on Saturday, Feb. 20. It follows a Feb. 17 letter of non-compliance, in which the agency instructed AltEn to take mitigation and cleanup efforts on the discharge.
The complaint and order is an enforceable legal document and states that AltEn has not adequately responded to the discharge and has caused pollution to the waters of the state, violating state law. The document also orders AltEn to build and fortify barriers to prevent migration of the discharge, remove discharge from drainage ditches, and provide daily cleanup progress reports to NDEE, among other actions.
The order also states AltEn is prohibited from resuming commercial and industrial operations until the discharge has been sufficiently remediated and that operation would not further threaten or harm public health and the environment.
While cleanup efforts have continued at the discharge site, Saturday’s order was intended to clarify the department’s expectations of clean up and recovery of the materials. NDEE has received preliminary results of the samples it took on the day of the spill. More information on the sampling results will be made available once they are finalized and NDEE has analyzed the data.
As of Tuesday, Feb. 23, AltEn’s cleanup has mobilized. The facility is removing ice and off-site materials to transport them back to its facility and it’s vacuuming water material throughout release. NDEE staff and its contractor have been on site since Feb. 12 to monitor cleanup efforts.
Since the release was reported, NDEE has been actively engaged in emergency response efforts and activities focused on cleaning up the material. While AltEn is still in its initial response phase, the agency expects significant progress to be made over the next few days. NDEE is still investigating potential impacts of the discharge.
NDEE values the cooperative efforts of the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and nearby residents, who have helped with mitigation efforts and provided access to their properties. The agency will continue to oversee activities to ensure an effective cleanup takes place.