A Nebraska state senator is making another run at getting answers for residents who live near pesticide contamination from the AltEn ethanol plant at Mead.
The ethanol plant discarded pesticide-laced byproduct on area fields, describing it as a soil amendment. Area residents have linked the compost to their pets stumbling about in a stupor, dead wildlife and their own bloody noses, headaches and respiratory problems. Those residents also have expressed frustration in getting answers from Nebraska officials.
The contamination has led to voluntary cleanup by major seed companies.
Sen. Carol Blood, who will be hosting AltEn-related information sessions, has sent a lengthy list of questions to the Nebraska Departments of Agriculture, Environment and Energy and Natural Resources.
“Every single one of those questions came from the residents,” she said.
In the letter, Blood asks about the cleanup process, liability issues, history of the site, and seeks reassurances that information about AltEn will be made public.
During the most recent legislative session, Blood proposed that the Legislature investigate what happened at Mead, including the state’s role. The Legislature approved the study, but hasn’t scheduled hearings until next year.
“I’m very concerned about what appear to be loopholes in our state regulations,” Blood wrote. “I fear those loopholes will lead to more problems like what is happening near Mead.”
Separately, Sen. Bruce Bostelman, whose district includes Mead, has proposed a study of whether the state needs greater authority to respond to problems such as what occurred with AltEn.
Amanda Woita, spokeswoman for the Department of Environment and Energy, said the agencies were working on answers to provide to Blood.