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Research team to provide update on AltEn study

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An aerial view of AltEn plant is seen in this photo taken in August 2021 in Mead.

The research team investigating the human health and environmental impacts of the AltEn ethanol plant near Mead will share an update of their ongoing study on Thursday evening.

The presentation featuring researchers from the University of Nebraska-Lincoln and the University of Nebraska Medical Center, will be at the Mead Fire Hall at 7 p.m.

The meeting is open to the public and will include a question-and-answer session and general discussion of the 2021 sampling.

AltEn, which used pesticide-treated seeds to produce ethanol, creating toxic solid and liquid waste products along the way, was ordered to shut down in February 2021 for violating numerous state environmental regulations.

Faculty from UNL, UNMC and Creighton University then launched a wide-ranging research project to study the movement of pesticides through the environment, as well as the chemicals' effects on humans, animals and pollinators.

UNMC survey of perceived health effects related to AltEn continuing

Environmental sampling started in the spring of 2021, while a survey of perceived health effects from 1,000 individuals living near the defunct plant was closed in May.

Dr. Eleanor Rogan, interim chair of the Department of Health Promotion in UNMC's College of Public Health, said the research team is still analyzing the results of the survey.

UNMC will also look for the presence of pesticides and toxic compounds in the blood or urine of individuals who wish to provide samples.

The study got a boost from the Legislature in April when it approved an amendment from Sen. Carol Blood of Bellevue appropriating $1 million in American Rescue Plan Act funds to continue the study through 2022.

Members of the research team who will present their findings and lead a discussion about their results include Rogan; Ali Khan, dean of UNMC's College of Public Health; Jesse Bell, director of the Water, Climate and Health Program; Shannon Bartelt-Hunt, department chair of civil and environmental engineering at UNL; Liz Van Wormer, coordinator of the One Health program at UNL; and Judy Wu-Smart, extension and research entomologist at UNL.

Watch now: Work to install temporary cover over toxic pile at AltEn has finished
Watch Now: Former neighbor to AltEn urges Legislature to investigate what went wrong
Seed companies suing AltEn for how it handled treated seed
Group demands answers on AltEn; state says it's working as quickly as it can on cleanup

Reach the writer at 402-473-7120 or

On Twitter @ChrisDunkerLJS


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