Nebraska DEE orders AltEn facility to cease operations

By Erin Voegele | February 08, 2021

The Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy on Feb. 4 published an emergency order requiring the 25 MMgy AltEn LLC ethanol plant located in Mead, Nebraska, to cease operations until wastewater violations are corrected.

Unlike most ethanol plants, the AltEn facility processes seed corn treated with pesticides to produce ethanol. As a result, wastewater and distillers grains produced at the facility contain high levels of pesticide residue, according to documents published by the DEE.

According to the DEE’s emergency order, the AltEn plant discharges processed wastewater into three lagoons. Those lagoons are operating at depths above their maximum operating depths and testing showed the pesticide levels found in the lagoon wastewater “far exceed the registered application rates for which EPA has conducted safety assessments for pesticide products and ‘represents a level of contamination that has no uniformity or limit on the number and amount of pesticides present,’” the DEE wrote in the order.

The DEE has ordered that AltEn immediately cease discharge of industrial wastewater into its wastewater lagoons and take necessary actions to ensure the facility and its equipment are operating in compliance with certain regulations and permits.

A full copy of the order can be downloaded from the Nebraska DEE website