Settlement Talks Ongoing in AltEn Case

Apr 22, 2024

By Todd Neeley

Seed companies and the former owners of a now-defunct ethanol plant in Mead, Nebraska, asked federal, state and county courts for a delay in several lawsuits related to the cleanup of an environmental disaster at the plant to allow for continued settlement negotiations.

According to a joint status report filed Monday in the U.S. District Court for the District of Nebraska, all sides in the lawsuits against AltEn LLC, the owner of the plant, indicate such talks could last through the rest of the year.

The plant west of Omaha has been closed since February 2021 following multiple environmental violations reported by the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.

Environmental cleanup at the plant entered a new phase last summer when a company hired by a coalition of seed companies conducted a pilot project to study the feasibility of moving 115,000 tons of wet cake, a byproduct that contains high levels of pesticide residue, to a landfill. The wet cake, also known as “mash,” is located on 16 acres at the northwest corner of the ethanol plant property 40 miles north of Lincoln.

AltEn once accepted unsold treated corn seed from major companies but began stockpiling the contaminated wet cake on-site after it was considered unfit for livestock feed or as a soil conditioner.

The wet cake and ponds filled with pesticide-contaminated water on the site combined to create an environmental disaster for the neighboring residents.

In the status report filed this week, all the parties involved said the voluntary cleanup of the plant site will continue while a legal settlement is pursued.

“Since entry of the progression order, the plaintiffs (which includes seed companies), the defendants, and the state of Nebraska have initiated confidential settlement discussions about a global resolution of this lawsuit and the other outstanding lawsuits concerning the AltEn property,” according to the status report.

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