Monday, February 22, 2021

US Nitogen Found in Compliance on Emissions

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental officials now say they are satisfied a Greene County chemical firm has remained in compliance with nitrous oxide emission limitations set in its state permits.
In a letter to US Nitrogen LLC, Bryan Parker, an environmental manager at the state Department of Environment and Conservation, said newly submitted test results for the last six months of 2020 show the emission limits were not exceeded at USN's nitric acid plant and its steam generating facility.
The Division considers the report technically corect and acceptable for a determination of compliance," Parker wrote in a letter sent today to US Nitrogen Plant Manager Dylan Charles.
Earlier TDEC officials had expressed concern that conflicting data from the company might have masked excessive emissions. Parker expressed those concerns in a two-page letter to Charles sent late last year.
There was no time during the reporting period when the company exceeded the nitrous oxide limits, Parker wrote in today's letter.
Parker also credits the ammonium nitrate manufacturer with compliance with the reporting requirements in the state permits.
US Nitrogen also achieved 95 percent operational availability for its emissions monitoring equipment, Parker concluded.

Friday, February 12, 2021

US Nitrogen Submits Revised Emissions Data

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental regulators say they are satisfied with revised emissions data submitted by US Nitrogen, following the detection of a calculation error in a prior submission.
In a letter sent today to Dylan Charles, US Nitrogen's plant manager, Bryan Parker of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the corrected data on emissions from the nitric acid plant showed there had been no excess nitrous oxide emissions.
Parker said the new data showed the erroneous calculation was made in the first quarter of 2019 and it caused only a slight deviation in the emissions calculation.
The data covered emissions data from the third quarter of 2017 to the last quarter of 2020. "The division considers the calculation error was inadvertent," Parker wrote.
When the error was first discovered TDEC officials had expressed concerns that there may have been excess emissions.
The Greene County chemical firm produces liquid ammonium nitrate for use in the production of explosives by its parent company, Ohio based Austin Powder.

Monday, February 8, 2021

US Nitrogen Water Use Grows

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen drew over a million gallons of water from the Nolichucky River on seven separate days in January with the monthly total reaching more than 19 million.
The monthly report shows the highest single day total was 1.3215 million gallons on Jan. 2.
The company uses the free water in the production of liquid ammonium nitrate and related products which are used by its parent company, Austin Powder, in the production of explosives.
The January total is nearly double the 9.9 million gallons used by the company in December.
The report shows there were five days during the month when a minimal amount of water was pumped by the company through a 12-mile pipeline which runs from the Midway plant to the Nolichucky River.
The monthly report shows US Nitrogen discharged 10.8 million gallons of waste water back into the river. That compares to 5.9 million gallons dumped back into the river in December.
The company obtained special state permits to draw and dump water back into the Nolichucky. Both were recently renewed.

Wednesday, February 3, 2021

US Nitrogen Completes Pipeline Test

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen LLC has reported to Tennessee environmental officials that it has completed a test to determine if there are any leaks in the 12-mile pipeline that runs from its plant in Midway to the Nolichucky River.
According to the report filed with the state the hydrostatic test was conducted on Dec. 9. The company, which produces liquid ammonium nitrate, had sought and obtained a special permit to conduct the test. That permit has now been terminated, at the company's request, since the test was completed.
The permit application stated that as much as 22,000 gallons of hydrostatic water would be released in a one time event.
US Nitrogen told state officials the discharge would be made from a point in the pipeline along the right-of-way of McDonald Road 1,000 feet southeast of Lick Creek and about 1,800 feet from the Beulah Baptist Church.
Under the permit the company was required to notify the state within 30 days of the actual test date. The filing does not indicate whether any leaks were detected.
Data submitted by US Nitrogen indicates the effluent released had a 7.9 pH score, which means it was slightly basic. A pH below 7 indicates acidity with 1 being the maximum level of acidity. Contact:

Thursday, January 21, 2021

US Nitrogen Reports Equipment Malfunction

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A Greene County chemical firm has reported an equipment malfunction to state environmental regulators in a monthly report on the water it has pumped from the Nolichucky River.
US Nitrogen LLC reported that the malfunction forced them to estimate the amount of water withdrawn on four days in the month of December, Dec. 15, and Dec. 25- Dec. 27. On those three days the company reported it withdrew no water.
The company reported a similar malfunction in its report covering the month of October.
Overall the company reported withdrawing 9.9 million gallons from the river in December. That's about half the amount reported for the month of November.
The company uses the river water in the production of ammonium nitrate and related products.
According to the report the largest amount withdrawn in a day was just under one million gallons on Dec. 31.
A little under six million gallons of wastewater was pumped back into the river during the month.
A minimal amount was discharged into the river on 10 days including Dec. 5 and Dec. 6.

Thursday, January 14, 2021

US Nitrogen Seeks Permit Amendments

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A chemical company that just won renewal of a critical permit is now seeking a series of amendments to its operating permit from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
In a submission to TDEC this week US Nitrogen LLC, located in Greene County, asked to have a current limit on the number of burners used in it two ammonia trains eliminated.
In a letter to Michelle Owenby, US Nitrogen's Dylan Charles said the changes were being requested due to the results of two days of tests conducted in late July.
In addition US Nitrogen is asking TDEC to change the emission factors used to determine the company's compliance with nitrous oxide emission limits. The company wants TDEC to replace the existing standard, which was set in 2016, to a new standard set as a result of the July tests.
The third requested change in its major conditional operating permit asks that it include a range of ammonia injection rates for each Selective Catalytic Reduction unit that can be used to assure compliance with nitrous oxide limits, so that there would be "no ammonia slip."
Charles, in a cover letter, indicates that the proposed changes have been the subject of ongoing discussions between the company and TDEC officials.
The requested changes come in the same week TDEC gave its official approval to another key US Nitrogen permit. Renewed was the permit that allows US Nitrogen to pump effluent from its plant in Midway to mile marker 20.8 in the Nolichucky River.

Wednesday, January 13, 2021

Controversial US Nitrogen Permit Renewed

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental officials have renewed a controversial permit that allows a Greene County chemical firm to dump millions of gallons of its wastewater into the Nolichucky River.
The permit, which will remain in effect till Jan. 31, 2025, was granted to US Nitrogen which also uses millions of gallons of water from the river under a separate permit.
The permit was granted despite considerable. opposition expressed at a Nov.19 virtual public hearing and in over a dozen written comments.
In issuing the permit, offficials of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation concluded that the discharges into the Nolichucky "will not cause degradation above a de minnimis level."
Several of those submitting comcments had asked that TDEC at least delay the renewal till March when additional bio-assessment data is scheduled to be available.
In its notice of approval TDEC stated, "Permit re-issuance is not dependent on bioassessment data."
Local environmental activist Park Overall who testified at the November hearing and submitted extensive written comments, said she was not surprised by TDEC's decision.
"All they have done is run violations, make people sick, killed animals, added to an already legally impaired Stream and river," she wrote in an email response to the renewal.
In its decision TDEC acknowledged that US Nitrogen had failed to complete bioassessments that should have been submitted in October, but noted that the company has agreed to perform two assessments, one this year and the other in 2025.
"There is no reason to believe that any species has been impaired," the approval notice states, adding that the tests should show if the effluent is causing damage to water fleas and fathead minnows.
The permit states that the amount of effluent the company can discharge at mile marker 20.8 of the Nolichucky is based on the production of 200 tons per day of ammonia, 600 tons per day of nitric acid and 840 tons per day of ammonium nitrate solution.
A subsidiary of Ohio based Austin Powder, US Nitrogen's products are used in the manufacture of explosives.
The permit does set a series of regular reporting requirements including monthly reports on the actual volume of wastewater discharged into the Nolichucky.
The company is also required to notify TDEC of any violations of the permit limits including notice within 24 hours of any violation that poses a threat to the public water supply.
The permit also requires US Nitrogen implement a Best Management Practices plan to limit or prevent any chemical spills.
Contact: A