One of the most upsetting elements of toxic contamination is that frequently, by the time people discover it, it has already caused incredible, irreversible damage.
For instance, an ethanol plant closed earlier this year after receiving numerous violations over the last decade. There was then a spill of millions of gallons of toxic ethanol byproduct. And today, parties are still assessing just how much damage the company has caused.
A plant with a poisonous past
The AltEn plant began operating about 10 years ago using a different method of creating ethanol. Instead of using corn to make ethanol, they used surplus crop seeds coated with pesticides and fungicides. Thus, the byproduct of the process referred to as “wet cake”, was also contaminated.
Sources report that not only did environmental regulators know that the plant was creating toxic byproducts, but they had known about it for years without taking action.
The plant did receive numerous violations over the years but continued operating and using unsafe practices. It was only when the media reported on the environmental disaster that the plant closed.
Assessing the damage
Today, residents living near the plant are more worried than ever about their health and safety, especially because the spilled wet cake has yet to be cleared.
Researchers and agricultural and environmental groups are still unsure of just how much damage the plant caused. However, there have been arguments and suspicions that the plant is responsible for:
- The deaths of millions of bees and birds
- Fish die-offs
- Plant contamination
- Untreated wastewater
- Neurotoxicity in plants and animals
- Other serious ailments
Further, the small town is only one group potentially affected by this environmental catastrophe. There may also be concerns for people living downstream from the plant, farmers who used the wet cake and anyone consuming animals or plants produced on those farms.
Picking up the pieces
We may not realize the extent of damage caused by toxic contamination for several years. And in that time, people can get sick and pass away from conditions developed due to environmental hazards. The damage to property can be extensive, as well.
Unfortunately, there is no easy or fast solution. However, parties can begin to rebuild their lives by holding parties accountable for toxic contamination, seeking compensation and forcing liable parties to clean up their mess.