NU, Creighton researchers preparing for 'unprecedented' study of contamination from AltEn

Mead Ethanol Plant

By: Chris Dunker, Lincoln Journal Star
Photo Credit: Fremont Tribune file

Note: This article first appeared in the April 7, 2021 edition of the Lincoln Journal Star.

Researchers from the University of Nebraska and Creighton University will study the long-term effects pesticides have had on the environment, agriculture and humans living near the AltEn ethanol plant south of Mead.

Experts across several disciplines — including public health, entomology, environmental engineering, chemistry, natural resources and geography — will sample for lingering neonicotinoids, a class of pesticides commonly used in seed coatings.

Dan Snow, a research professor at Nebraska Water Center at the University of Nebraska-Lincoln, called the scope and scale of the study "unprecedented."

Unlike most ethanol plants, which use harvested grain to produce ethanol, AltEn solicited and used discard treated seed to manufacture the fuel.

The solid and liquid byproducts of that process were discovered to be heavily contaminated with pesticides believed to be responsible for the collapse of dozens of bee colonies, the death of wildlife, and for making pets and humans sick.

Continue reading