AltEn Community Update from the Facility Response Group

The below information has been provided in an effort to help keep the community informed on a more frequent basis about progress at the AltEn site. 

Ever since AltEn ceased operations at its facility in Mead in 2021, the AltEn Facility Response Group (FRG) has been voluntarily working under the guidance of the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) to stabilize the AltEn site and develop a Remedial Action Plan (RAP) for the site. The FRG’s top priorities have been and continue to be to help ensure the safety of the surrounding community and environment. To-date, there has been no evidence of impacts to local drinking water.

The FRG is working diligently with the NDEE to identify the most effective and safest methods to address the current environmental conditions on the AltEn site. The remedial action plans (RAP) will recommend remediation for components remaining on-site, including wastewater, sludge, and wet cake.

January 24, 2023

Suppression of Windblown Materials

Windblown materials were observed on the southern berm of the Northwest Lagoon between
Christmas and New Year’s Day, which was likely a result of a winter storm and heavy winds
moving through the area during that time. To reduce the potential for windblown materials from
future weather events, the FRG’s Project Manager Newfields oversaw application of a tackifier
cover to the berm on January 6-7. This tackifier cover is intended to reduce the potential for
windblown materials and is comprised of the same material used for hydroseeding. The winter
weather conditions weren’t ideal during treatment application so additional application may be
necessary once the weather improves. Updates will be provided if a timeframe and need for
additional tackifier cover are determined.

Solids RAP Evaluation

The FRG continues to assess site conditions, gather additional data about the solids at the AltEn site and complete its exhaustive due diligence regarding options for on-site containment and off-site landfilling methods to best inform the Solids Remedial Action Plan (RAP).

NewFields reviewed available information on a proprietary gasification process proposed to treat the wet cake and sludge, as well as a potential chemical treatment. NewFields recommended to the FRG that both of these potential treatments be removed from consideration because each was unable to demonstrate its ability to process, handle, and remediate material of this nature.

Currently, the FRG is evaluating proposals from three companies for off-site landfilling of the solids. NewFields is gathering additional information about the companies’ requirements and capabilities to address considerations. These include odor management during material transportation and landfill placement, and concerns about physical and chemical properties of the solids that might impact the landfill. NewFields will report and make recommendations to the FRG once the analysis is complete.

When submitted, the Solids RAP will include an evaluation of these remedial options and a recommendation.

Groundwater Monitoring

Groundwater monitoring and testing will continue at on-site monitoring wells. All of the on-site wells except for MW-5 (the well closest to the Northwest Lagoon) continue to be below regulatory screening levels for associated pesticides.

Importantly, the NDEE and FRG test results continue to demonstrate no impacts to local drinking water and no presence of pesticides in Mead’s water supply.

Spring Land Application

The FRG has treated more than 49 million gallons of wastewater since commencing water
treatment in 2021, much of which has been applied to nearby farms at the invitation of property
owners as a tested and proven nutrient-rich benefit for crop health. Water treatment and land
application ceased for the winter months and will re-start in spring 2023, when it is anticipated
that many of the same property owners as well as additional ones will participate in the
program. Participation has been dependent on a number of factors, including crop rotation on
individual fields. Because of this, some property owners who previously participated may not
participate in the spring 2023 application, and other property owners may be interested in
participating for the first time. The FRG continues to coordinate with the NDEE to obtain the
Agency’s concurrence and approval of the land application program.