Mead residents meet with experts, demand answers

MEAD - "Is it criminal to kill humans?"

Just one of many questions asked by during a town hall in Mead Monday night.

People in the town met with health and legal experts to talk about what the waste produced by the AltEn ethanol plant could be doing to them - and what can be done to stop it.

"What is the next step? What is going on in the legislature? What is going on with Governor Ricketts?" asked Jane Kleeb, founder of Bold Nebraska.

"I mean how many folks in the room knows somebody who is sick?"

Several individuals in the room raised their hands.

Residents say they have experienced new illnesses ever since AltEn began using treated seed corn for its ethanol production - discarding the waste in lagoons and piling it out in the open.

"There's an irrigation well probably less than 15 yards from those piles," said a Mead resident in attendence.

Researchers at the meeting say they found evidence of damage caused by the waste product at Alten - tens of thousands of dead bees at a local research site, as well as groundwater testing for wells that yielded contaminates as far as 28 feet below the surface.

"The longer this goes, the more it can spread," said John Schalles, a professor at Creighton University, "The longer that sits on the ground and sits in these lagoons that are leaking, the worse it's going to get."

Many in attendance desperate for answers and solutions to a problem that appears to have no end in sight.

While the panel says more research needs to be done before the gears can begin to turn, they stressed the need for the community to keep making their issues known and their voices heard.

"All these things take years," said former Nebraska State Senator Al Davis "I'm sorry to tell you that. It's just the way it is."

"The only way to move forward is to be a bulldog and you just stick with it, and stick with it, and stick with it."