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Nebraska Town’s Environmental Disaster Is a Tragic Reminder of Why Journalists Are Important

Nebraska Town’s Environmental Disaster Is a Tragic Reminder of Why Journalists Are Important

AltEn processed millions in corn seed treated with neonicotinoid pesticides, fungicides, and fungicides from 2000 to 2020. It also marketed the plant as an option to seed companies for disposing of treated corn seeds.

The ethanol plant’s wastewater was contaminated by a high level of neonic pesticides. Also, the distiller’s grains were contaminated. The lagoons of the plant were contaminated with a high concentration of pesticides and the leftover wet cake. There was an estimated 84,000 tonnes of wet cake at the plant. In March, Nebraska sued the ethanol plant to close it down.

We wrote several stories and continued to push for answers. In essence, we were a voice for the small community.

One story stands out for me. You can read the story “Mead Seeks Answers on Plant Cleanup” at https://www.dtnpf.com/….

I covered a Mead Planning Commission Meeting in May where the village tried to stop the plant from producing any ethanol.

The most heartbreaking thing for the Mead community was that the original plant was described by E3 Biofuels as a unique closed-loop ethanol plant. It would not rely on any outside fuel sources to make ethanol and was a fine example environmental stewardship. The plan was to use methane from cattle at a nearby feedlot to run the plant.

Mead residents were told that the plant would bring about much-needed economic growth. It would increase the tax base and tax revenues to the village government.

I was there for the groundbreaking and a visit of the Nebraska Governor. Dave Heineman. It was a thrilling time for the community.

Mead was the talk of Nebraska and attracted international attention for his high-tech venture that was sure to impress the rest of the world.

Fast forward to May 20, 211. The scene changed dramatically.

The state was eager to help Mead village officials. They wanted to know if their community has a future.

Officials from the village of Mead claimed that state officials had not provided enough information or were oblivious to their needs at that May commission meeting. They were simply left in suspense.

Mead’s leaders were unaware of the extent of the environmental crisis and what it might mean in the community. Those questions remain unanswered.

Officials from the seed industry agreed to manage an ongoing cleanup of the plant under the supervision of the state.

As a journalist, I will always be proud of our coverage of the Mead tragedy.

See Also
German environment minister makes awkward Brussels debut – EURACTIV.com

We asked the hard questions. We looked through state environmental documents, spoke with seed company officials, and tried to get AltEn talking.

Journalism was conducted as it was intended to be done: with vigor, questioning everything and asking for answers for the little guy’.

Keep watching.

Todd Neeley may be reached at: todd.neeley@dtn.com

Follow him @DTNeeley

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