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Frozen pipe causes wastewater leak at Mead ethanol plant

Posted at 7:15 PM, Feb 12, 2021
and last updated 2021-02-12 20:15:40-05

MEAD, Neb. (KMTV) — An ethanol plant that had been ordered to shut down due to environmental concerns reported a wastewater leak at about 2:30 a.m. Friday morning, according to the Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy.

The leak at AltEn in Mead comes from a digester tank containing thin stillage and cattle manure, the department said in a statement. Representatives of the agency were onsite Friday and are "continuing to actively monitor conditions at the site to protect public health and safety."

Staff at a nearby University of Nebraska-Lincoln research facility sitting on nearly 10,000 acres of land noticed "a substantial amount of effluent in the waterway" that flows for about three miles through the land.

"Center staff worked quickly to contain the escaping effluent, using plastic sheeting and a round hay bale to block a culvert, though some effluent continued to seep through," said Cara Pesek, spokesperson for UNL's Institute of Agriculture and Natural Resources.

Pesek said the impact of the spill is not yet known.

AltEn has not responded to a request for comment.

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