Mead Farmer wants his poisoned pond cleaned up


A farmer who lives six miles downstream from the former AltEn ethanol plant said chemicals from the factory destroyed his property and he wants the state and seed corn companies to clean up his land. “They don’t have the right to do this to private people,” said Stan Keiser, a fourth-generation farmer who farms 160 acres of corn and soybeans. Keiser said just after AltEn started processing pesticide treated seed corn, everything died in his private, five-acre fishing pond.“We lost all our fish up there. We were catching 20-inch bass. They’d been there for 10 years,” he said. In 2021, pipes burst at the plant, sending significant runoff downstream. Kaiser said the water in his pond turned yellow and foamy.Keiser said the state tested samples from the pond prior to the breach and found the same chemical fingerprint present on the property at AltEn. Creighton University Biologist, Dr. John Schalles has also been testing the pond water and ditches and culverts leading from the AltEn property to the Kaiser farm.“The culverts that carry drainage from certain locations we’ve plotted, two of them, the middle two—come right through this pond in terms of the water converging,” said Schalles. The same chemical fingerprint was found in the Keiser’s private well water. The well is 40 feet below ground. The family drinks bottled water and they have a carbon filter on their faucet.Schalles believes it’s a matter of time before the vast accumulation of concentrated pesticides at the AltEn site reaches the groundwater and impacts many more people.“Groundwater takes even longer to accumulate these leachates from the site and it travels slower. So it’s an early picture of what may be coming,” said Schalles.Schalles is part of a team of UNMC researchers who are studying the health impact of the mishandling of waste and contaminated water at the AltEn site in Mead, Nebraska. So far, state lawmakers have not signed off on funding a long term study on the mess. Keiser wrote a letter to the state asking that his property be included in the current cleanup plan. Right now, seed corn companies are shoring up the contamination only on the AltEn property. The state has not responded to his request.

A farmer who lives six miles downstream from the former AltEn ethanol plant said chemicals from the factory destroyed his property and he wants the state and seed corn companies to clean up his land.

“They don’t have the right to do this to private people,” said Stan Keiser, a fourth-generation farmer who farms 160 acres of corn and soybeans. Keiser said just after AltEn started processing pesticide treated seed corn, everything died in his private, five-acre fishing pond.

“We lost all our fish up there. We were catching 20-inch bass. They’d been there for 10 years,” he said.

In 2021, pipes burst at the plant, sending significant runoff downstream. Kaiser said the water in his pond turned yellow and foamy.

Keiser said the state tested samples from the pond prior to the breach and found the same chemical fingerprint present on the property at AltEn. Creighton University Biologist, Dr. John Schalles has also been testing the pond water and ditches and culverts leading from the AltEn property to the Kaiser farm.

“The culverts that carry drainage from certain locations we’ve plotted, two of them, the middle two—come right through this pond in terms of the water converging,” said Schalles.

The same chemical fingerprint was found in the Keiser’s private well water. The well is 40 feet below ground. The family drinks bottled water and they have a carbon filter on their faucet.

Schalles believes it’s a matter of time before the vast accumulation of concentrated pesticides at the AltEn site reaches the groundwater and impacts many more people.

“Groundwater takes even longer to accumulate these leachates from the site and it travels slower. So it’s an early picture of what may be coming,” said Schalles.

Schalles is part of a team of UNMC researchers who are studying the health impact of the mishandling of waste and contaminated water at the AltEn site in Mead, Nebraska. So far, state lawmakers have not signed off on funding a long term study on the mess.

Keiser wrote a letter to the state asking that his property be included in the current cleanup plan. Right now, seed corn companies are shoring up the contamination only on the AltEn property. The state has not responded to his request.



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