GRAND ISLAND, NEB. — Following a wastewater spill on Jan. 6 at a JBS plant in Grand Island, Neb., that sent millions of gallons of discharge into the Platte and Wood Rivers, Plant Manager Tony Lang sent a letter to the Hall County Board of Commissioners with an action plan.

The Hall County Board of Commissioners sent a letter to JBS on Feb. 13 with concerns from citizens and commissioners related to the spill.

On Feb. 26, Lang responded to the board’s letter, saying, “JBS is committed to serving the Grand Island community and we are in communication with officials from the US Environmental Protection Agency and Nebraska Department of Environment and Energy (NDEE) to address any potential impacts from the recent wastewater incident and we are taking multiple steps to prevent future incidents.”

Lang explained what steps JBS took in the immediate hours following spill, which included:

  • Ceasing operation of the processing facility
  • Mobilizing multiple cleanup vendors
  • Working with a third-party that specializes in wastewater treatment and lagoon design
  • Securing a contractor to perform Geotechnical investigation of JBS’s wastewater treatment lagoon berms to verify structural integrity
  • Conducting water sampling of the local waterways at eight different locations and continuing sampling on a regular basis

JBS said it recognizes that a reactive position is critical but still not enough. JBS committed to being proactive to prevent the recurrence of an impact on the local waterways and community.

As part of this commitment, JBS plans to replace the failed lagoon with a best-engineering approach.

The company will also supplement its pretreatment system clarification process. The existing pretreatment system uses a large clarifier to remove solids from the treated water before being discharged to the city wastewater treatment plant. The new supplement will be a similarly sized clarifier for redundancy’s sake, Lang said.