Tuesday, February 18, 2020

Whoops!! TDEC Permit Has Typo


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A recently granted permit to a Greene County chemical firm has a typographical error and apparently will have to be amended.
The seven-page permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation on Jan. 30 to Praxair, Inc. leaves out a key verb, Shall.
In an internal TDEC memo posted today, an official of the agency's air pollution control division, asked a colleague about the procedure to be followed for such a change.
Praxair, a supplier of liquid carbon dioxide to the beverage industry, is one of three firms occupying a multi-acre site in Midway.
"The operating permit for Praxair Inc. needs to be amended," Shawn Auth wrote in the email to the Air Permit Control permitting section and TDEC employee Doug Wright.
The word "shall" was apparently omitted in the following sentence: "Visible emissions from this facility not exhibit greater than 20 percent."
Under the permit Praxair was given the right to produce up to 90,789 tons of carbon dioxide in any 12 month period. Once amended it will limit visible emissions to 20 percent. The permit expires April 1, 2029. The other firms operating on the same site are US Nitrogen and Yara Inc.
US Nitrogen was issued a new conditional major operating permit in December. It expires on April 1, 2029.
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Tennessee environmental officials have issued a separate permit to Praxair, Inc. a major supplier of liquefied carbon dioxide to the soft drink industry.
Praxair, which operates on the same Green County site as US Nitrogen, will get carbon dioxide in gas form from US Nitrogen LLC, and then liquefy it before shipping to customers.
The permit, which was issued Thursday by the Air Pollution Control Division of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, will be effective until April 1, 2029.
Praxair initially did not have a separate permit but was covered under a permit issued to US Nitrogen.
The seven-page permit sets annual limits on the amount of carbon dioxide the company can produce and also limits some of the air pollutants it can emit.
Under the permit Praxair must limit opacity at 20 percent for any six minutes in a one hour period and to four six minute periods in any 24 hour period. The company must also maintain records of emissions in any start ups or shutdowns.
The permit limits the company's water use to 2,400 gallons per minute and limits the amount of liquefied carbon dioxide produced to 90,789 tons per any 12 month period.
Finally the company must maintain logs showing the amount of carbon dioxide received from US Nitrogen and the amount of liquefied carbon dioxide shipped out.
Yet another permit is expected to be issued to Yara, Inc. which also operates on the same Midway site and previously was covered under a US Nitrogen permit.
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Friday, February 7, 2020

US Nitrogen Disables Auxiliary Burners


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen LLC has sent photographic proof to Tennessee environmental officials that they have disabled two pipes feeding natural gas to auxiliary burners in its manufacturing operations.
The chemical company was required to submit the photos under the provisions of a revised permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The submission was one of several developments this week at the Greene County facility which produces ammonium nitrate and related products for use by its Ohio parent, Austin Powder.
The company also submitted a report showing that it withdrew 13.1 million gallons of water from the Nolichucky River during the month of January.
In a third development TDEC officials sent a letter to Park Overall, a local resident and environmental activist, stating that after an investigation the agency concluded that a large visible plume emanating from US Nitrogen on Jan. 18 did not violate the company's opacity limits set in one of its state permits.
"There was no finding of non-compliance," Ron Wilhoit wrote in the letter to Overall, who had sent photos of the plume to the agency.
Wilhoit added that the plume consisted of water vapor and "such a plume would not be considered a visible emission subject to this permit's opacity limit."
In yet another development, US Nitrogen has recommended a language change in one of its state permits to clarify the limits on carbon monoxide emissions and the requirements for compliance testing to confirm compliance.
The apparent confusion surfaced recently when the company and TDEC officials exchanged emails about the upcoming performance testing.
The permit change would limit carbon monoxide emissions to 8.32 pounds per hour or 36.44 tons in any 12 month period.
The river water report submitted to TDEC shows that the company pumped more than 800,000 gallons from the Nolichucky River on nine days during January, with the highest amount on Jan. 22. On eight days only a minimal amount was pumped from the river.
The company discharged 7.7 million gallons of water back in to the river. On nine days in the month the discharges totaled more than 400,000 gallons. On five days including Jan. 1 and Jan. 2 only a minimal amount was discharged.
In its last report covering the month of December US Nitrogen reported drawing 12.7 million gallons from the river and discharging about 6 million. The monthly reports are required under one of the company's permits.
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Friday, January 31, 2020

Praxair Gets New Permit


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental officials have issued a separate permit to Praxair, Inc. a major supplier of liquefied carbon dioxide to the soft drink industry.
Praxair, which operates on the same Green County site as US Nitrogen, will get carbon dioxide in gas form from US Nitrogen LLC, and then liquefy it before shipping to customers.
The permit, which was issued Thursday by the Air Pollution Control Division of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, will be effective until April 1, 2029.
Praxair initially did not have a separate permit but was covered under a permit issued to US Nitrogen.
The seven-page permit sets annual limits on the amount of carbon dioxide the company can produce and also limits some of the air pollutants it can emit.
Under the permit Praxair must limit opacity at 20 percent for any six minutes in a one hour period and to four six minute periods in any 24 hour period. The company must also maintain records of emissions in any start ups or shutdowns.
The permit limits the company's water use to 2,400 gallons per minute and limits the amount of liquefied carbon dioxide produced to 90,789 tons per any 12 month period.
Finally the company must maintain logs showing the amount of carbon dioxide received from US Nitrogen and the amount of liquefied carbon dioxide shipped out.
Yet another permit is expected to be issued to Yara, Inc. which also operates on the same Midway site and previously was covered under a US Nitrogen permit.
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Thursday, January 30, 2020

Study Details Injuries from Chemical Spill


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A study just released by the U.S. Centers for Disease Control and Prevention details how the accidental release of anhydrous ammonia in Illinois a year ago sickened some 83 area residents some requiring intubation and up to a week of hospitalization.
Anhydrous ammonia is one of the products produced at the Greene County plant of US Nitrogen and the study states, "Exposure to anhydrous ammonia gas can cause severe respiratory and ocular damage."
The chemical was released when a tractor hauling two large tanks of anhydrous ammonia on a local road in Lake County Illinois malfunctioned releasing at least 500 gallons of the chemical in a residential neighborhood.
US Nitrogen, according to its own website, produces anhydrous ammonia by converting methane and then uses the anhydrous ammonia to produce "nitric acid, ammonium nitrate and a product called hydroxy-503, a compound used by its parent company, Austin Powder, to produce explosives.
US Nitrogen officials did not respond to a request for comment.
The federal study of the 2019 Illinois incident involved a review of medical records and a series of interviews with victims, some of who were first responders.
The release of the gas in April of last year in Illinois not only injured residents but stripped trees, leaving 81 trees visibly damaged.
A total of 83 persons were affected and 14 were hospitalized including seven who suffered respiratory failure, the study states. Eight victims ended up in intensive care units.
The incident occurred at 4:24 a.m when the tractor was going down a two lane main highway and experienced equipment failure on the two two ton tanks of anhydrous ammonia.
"Release of the ammonia created a large, low-lying plume of white gas, which, because of cool, humid air and calm winds, lingered in the area and surrounded nearby homes," the report states.
Cars and trucks on the highway stalled out when they encountered the plume and drivers and passengers "were overcome by gas, reporting an acrid smell and taste, throat irritation, coughing, difficulty breathing and choking."
There were no deaths, the report states.
Citing communication problems in the response to the incident, the study recommends a series of steps to ensure injuries are minimized in the event of any future incidents.
"Preparation for hazardous materials responses should ensure timely and informative public communication, effective communication among first responders," the report states, adding that regular hazmat exercises should be conducted for all response and support personnel.
Noting that some health care workers were sickened after coming in contact with the clothing of victims, the study states,"Hospitals also need to review institutional policies and procedures for chemical mass casualty events, including decontamination."
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Friday, January 24, 2020

US Nitrogen Planning Tests


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A Greene County chemical firm is planning a partial shutdown in March in order to conduct performance testing on its ammonium nitrate manufacturing operations as required under its permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
In a series of emails between TDEC and Stephen Wallace of US Nitrogen which were just made public today, some details of the testing procedure were disclosed. They show TDEC has offered a series of options for the company to meet permit requirements.
Wallace wrote in an email to James Johnston of TDEC, that the company was in the initial process of developing the testing plan which calls for a shutdown of one of the company's two ammonia trains in March, with a re-start expected in early April.
Wallace said the company was proposing to test only one of the ammonia trains "since both trains are designed utilizing the same equipment and piping."
The emails disclose, however, that the two ammonia trains have a slight difference in heat output.
"If the company is willing to certify that the two units are identical, then the division would be willing to accept the results from one unit as being representative of the other," the email states.
If the two units are not identical, the email continues, then the division could accept the results on the train with the higher output as representative.
"There would need to be a formal proposal from the company," the email continues.
"If US Nitrogen is amenable to either of these two options, then you should submit test protocols as required" by the permit, the email states.
Another option offered by TDEC is for US Nitrogen to request an extension of the 180 day deadline so that both units can be tested.
The state official also noted that the permit also requires testing for carbon monoxide.
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Thursday, January 23, 2020

TDEC Approves USN Exemption


By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental regulators have given swift approval for US Nitrogen to install additional diesel fuel storage capacity without obtaining a special permit.
In a letter sent this week to the Greene County chemical company, James P. Johnson of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation wrote that the proposed 12,000 gallon diesel fuel storage tank would be exempt from permitting requirements.
US Nitrogen's plant manager, Dylan Charles, had written to the agency on Jan. 14 informing officials of the plant to install the storage tank and seeking the agency's acknowledgment that a permit would not be required.
In the same letter Charles notified TDEC that it also intended to install a 275 gallon storage tote which will be filled with a mixture of urea and water.
Johnson wrote in his letter that the tote would be considered an "insignificant activity," thus exempting it from permitting or other requirements.
The exemption is based on US Nitrogen's estimate that the tote will have emissions of less than five tons per year.
"All applicable air pollution regulations must still be met by your facility," Johnson wrote in the two-page letter.
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Thursday, January 16, 2020

US Nitrogen Seeks Exemption



US Nitrogen is asking Tennessee environmental officials to agree that the installation of a 12,000 gallon diesel fuel storage tank at its Greene County facility does not require a special permit.
In a letter to the Department of Environment and Conservation, Stephen Wallace, a US Nitrogen manager, stated that the diesel tank would not produce any carbon dioxide or nitrate emissions, though it would emit "a small amount" of volatile organic compounds.
In the letter Wallace requests TDEC's concurrence that installation of the tank qualifies as an exempted air contaminant source.
The letter also seeks TDEC approval for the installation of a 275 gallon "storage tote," which will be filled with urea and water.
Wallace wrote that the 275 gallon "tote" should be considered an "insignificant activity."
The request does not indicate why the additional storage capacity is needed.
The request was posted today on the TDEC data site. The
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