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.
SEPTEMBER 9, 2022
Proposed Remedies for Wastewater
The FRG intends to submit a water-related RAP with the NDEE on September 12, and a solids-related (wet cake) RAP later this year.
A description of the proposed remedy to be included in the water-related RAP for the remaining wastewater on-site is provided below. A summary of the options under evaluation for the wet cake, sludge, and associated soil will be shared in the coming weeks.
The Water RAP recommends treating the untreated water and stormwater that accumulates within the lagoons and pond during the remedial action period and managing the treated water through land application. Currently, more than 100 million gallons of wastewater remain in the lagoons at the AltEn site. All of this water can be safely treated and applied to nearby farms as a nutrient-rich benefit for crop health. The FRG has treated more than 30 million gallons of water; nine million gallons of that total was put to beneficial use on nearby farms in the spring of 2022 and the remaining is available for land application this fall. The Water RAP also includes a summary of alternatives that were considered and potential pre-design investigations.
While the Water RAP is undergoing review and approval by NDEE, and during the anticipated public comment period, the FRG will continue to work through the regulatory steps necessary to apply treated water this fall. The four regulatory steps include:
1. Soil sampling and laboratory analysis on fields that will be accepting the treated water began in August and will continue through this month.
2. With that data, a certified agronomist will develop a Best Management Practices Plan (the Plan) for land application in September.
3. The NDEE will receive the Plan for review in October.
4. If the Plan is approved, land application will commence again in October and run through November.
Completed Posi-Shell Repairs
Earlier this year, the FRG installed a wet cake pile drainage and temporary cover system using Posi-Shell, as approved by the NDEE, which will be removed when wet cake remedial actions begin. The purpose of the Posi-Shell covering is for wet cake containment, odor control, and to prevent contact between the wet cake and any precipitation, preventing the generation of additional contaminated stormwater.
Settling of the underlying wet cake caused the Posi-Shell cover to develop cracks. Those have been repaired. There is no indication that these cracks resulted in any release of contact stormwater. The FRG will continue routine inspections, monitoring, and repairs as needed of the Posi-Shell.
While the cracks were present in the Posi-Shell, the FRG took the opportunity to collect wet cake material to be utilized for larger-scale testing, to support recommendations to be included in the forthcoming solids RAP.
What the FRG is Doing Now
As the FRG works to finalize the solids RAP, we continue to draw down water levels in the AltEn lagoons, treat water, and store treated water in engineered ponds under permits from the NDEE and constructed by the FRG. Below is a graphic that depicts our current major initiatives in more detail. We will continue to prioritize the safety of the community and the environment during each step of this process.