Friday, January 12, 2018

US Nitrogen Drew Record 38 Million from River

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen drew a record 38.78 million gallons of water from the Nolichucky River during the month of December, according to a report filed this week with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The report shows that on each of 11 days during that month the company withdrew nearly one million from the river through its 12 mile pipeline.
According to the report the company discharged 5.8 million back into the river.
The water is withdrawn and discharged through 12 mile long pipelines between the 23 mile marker on the river and the Midway manufacturing facility.
The discharge and withdrawal reports are required under the company permits from TDEC.
The December figures and prior reports filed over a 22 month period show the company has pumped nearly 200 million gallons from the river since it began startup activities.
The December figure was by far the highest on record. The previous high, 19.5 million gallons, was pumped from the river in September of this year.
The December and prior US Nitrogen reports show that a total of more than 85 million gallons has been discharged by US Nitrogen back into the river since March 2016, the first month the company filed a report.
Use of water from the river has been one of the most controversial aspects of the US Nitrogen project. Environmentalists have charged the high usage could cause damage to the river.
US Nitrogen, a subsidiary of Ohio explosives manufacturer Austin Powder, uses the Nolichucky water in the production of ammonium nitrate, which is then shipped to Austin in the production of explosives.
Opponents also have challenged the legality of a permit issued by the state authorizing the construction of the dual pipelines. The legal challenge is pending in Davidson Chancery Court.

Thursday, January 11, 2018

US Nitrogen Gets 9 Day Extension

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental officials have granted US Nitrogen a nine-day extension to respond to a lengthy compliance report that showed the Greene County firm had fallen out of compliance with some of the conditions of its multiple state permits.
In an email dated Wednesday, Chris Rhodes, an official of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation told an attorney for US Nitrogen that this week's deadline for responding to the compliance report was being extended to Jan. 19.
Michael Stagg of Waller and Lansden, which represents US Nitrogen, had written to TDEC seeking the extension citing illnesses and the recent holidays.
TDEC's responded by saying the request was reasonable.
The compliance review found that US Nitrogen had failed to inform the state of changes in production and also failed to inform regulators of a "mishap."
 The details of the nearly month long inspection were detailed in a 16-page letter to US Nitrogen Plant Manager Andrew Velo from Chris Rhodes, TDEC's Water Resources Division Manager.
The mishap, which occurred in early 2016 resulted in the contamination of the steam system. TDEC also cited US Nitrogen for changes in the use of a retention pond,

Wednesday, January 10, 2018

US Nitrogen Complaints Dismissed

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Tennessee environmental officials say they have investigated complaints from two residents about US Nitrogen's operations in Greene County and determined there were no violations.
One resident had complained of burning gases from the US Nitrogen's Midway plant on Dec. 9.
Ron Wilhoit, an inspector from the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation wrote that he investigated the complaint on Dec. 11 and found that a US Nitrogen flare was operating for all 24 hours that day "because of a compressor issue."
He said that activated the flare system, which is designed to operate "when excess emissions are generated.
"There were no upsets with the boiler," he added in the letter to the resident.
Wilhoit sent a similar response to another area resident who had complained of caustic odors. He said his investigation concluded that US Nitrogen was not the likely source of odors.
He also stated a review of company records showed no upset conditions.
In a related development, Yara International, which will be operating from the same Greene County site, reported that there were no emissions during the past year from their location because the process emissions had not yet been constructed.
Contact: wfroche

Friday, December 29, 2017

Faulty Data Submitted by US Nitrogen

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Prompted by concerns from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, Tennessee regulators have determined that US Nitrogen under reported the amount of nitric acid produced at its Midway plant in reports filed with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
According to a letter issued today by a TDEC official from the Division of Air Pollution Control, the ammonium nitrate manufacturer submitted reports showing an unexplained dip in acid production on April 27.
After learning that a measuring device had been "inadvertently reset" and the totals listed for the day covered only a 12 hour period and not the full day of production, the state requested revised data..
"The original data on nitric acid production represented only the production for the 12 hour period after the acid production totalizer was reset," Jeryl Stewart wrote in the letter to US Nitrogen.
According to the letter US Nitrogen when first asked about the apparent discrepancy, they revised the estimate to 298 tons for that day.
In his letter Stewart said the revised estimate had a "low bias" and the actual production was 376 tons.
Stewart said the data was originally accepted by the state on June 15 based on assurances from US Nitrogen.
Subsequently, however, EPA officials expressed concern about the low reported acid production rate for that date of only 187 tons.

Tuesday, December 26, 2017

US Nitrogen Drew 159.9 Million Gallons From River

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen has drawn just shy of 160 million gallons from the Nolichucky River, according to reports the Tennessee chemical manufacturer has filed with state officials.
The monthly reports show 159.9 million gallons from March 2016 through November of this year, according to the reports. That figure is nearly equivalent to all the water consumed in 2015 by the 5,300 residents of Rhinebeck, N.Y.
The monthly reports show March of 2016 was the first month that the company filed a detailed report on water drawn from the river.  The reports also include the amount of water the Midway, Tenn. company has discharged to the river.
The total discharged to the river over the same 22 month period was 79.9 million gallons.
The reports show the amount being drawn from the river for use in the production of ammonium nitrate has peaked in recent months with totals running from a low of 10.4 million gallons in May of 2017 to 19.5 million gallons in September of this year.
The discharges to the river during the same period ranged from 6.1 million gallons in July of this year to 9.1 million gallons discharged in October.
According to the reports there were four months in which US Nitrogen drew no water from the river, May, June and December of 2016 and February of 2017.
The reports show some water was discharged into the river every month since March of 2016. The largest discharge, 19.5 million gallons, came in October of this year. The lowest discharge to the river was in June of 2016 when .477 million gallons were piped from the Midway plant to the river.
Use of the river and the installation and use of the pipeline to make it possible have been two of the most controversial aspects of the multi-million dollar US Nitrogen project. The permit allowing installation of the pipeline is the subject of an ongoing court challenge.
The initial challenge to the permit's legality was dismissed by a Davidson chancery court judge, but the dismissal was overturned on appeal and a second trial will be held before another chancery court judge.
The ammonium nitrate produced by US Nitrogen is utilized by its corporate parent, Austin Powder of Ohio, in the production of explosives.

Friday, December 22, 2017

US Nitrogen Draws Nearly 15 Million Gallons

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen drew just shy of 15 million gallons of water from the Nolichucky River in November, according to a monthly report filed with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation.
The report shows a total of 14.9 million gallons were withdrawn from the river while 8.2 million were discharged into the Nolichucky in Greene County.
That compares with 14.6 million gallons withdrawn by the Midway chemical firm from the river in October. The company discharged .9 million gallons to the river during the same month.
The report from Kimberly Ryans, a US Nitrogen environmental official, shows just under 1 million gallons were withdrawn from the river on Nov. 18, Nov. 19 and Nov. 2.
There were no discharges to the river on Nov. 1-3, the report states.
The company uses the river water in the production of ammonium nitrate which is then shipped to US Nitrogen's parent, Austin Powder, an Ohio explosives manufacturer.
The use of the river water has drawn opposition from some local citizens who contend the withdrawals threaten the river's existence. The water is withdrawn and discharged to the river through 12 miles of pipeline under a permit from the Tennessee Department of Transportation. The permit is under a legal challenge in a suit pending in Davidson Chancery Court.

Sunday, December 17, 2017

Overall Calls for US Nitrogen Hearing

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A local activist and opponent of the US Nitrogen's Greene County operations is calling on Tennessee officials to combine a series of recent requests from the chemical company and hold a public hearing so local citizens can voice their concerns.
In a letter sent last week to an official of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Park Overall of Afton said US Nitrogen's history has shown that the company is not capable of running the ammonium nitrate plant safely.
Noting a flurry of recent requests for amendments to its permits or exemption from existing regulations, Overall wrote that the agency needs to consider the combined impact of all those proposed changes.
The most recent request submitted to TDEC asks that the company be exempted from limits on visible emissions during start-up and shut-down operations. Other pending requests include an extension of a permit for a carbon dioxide liquefaction operation and an amendment to a flare permit.
One US Nitrogen request regarding a 52,000 gallon storage tank was approved just as Overall submitted her letter.
"Excess emissions that are caused by poor maintenance, careless operations or other preventable conditions do not qualify for any exemptions," Overall wrote in the letter to Michelle Owenby, a TDEC director.
Citing concerns of local residents over the health impact of US Nitrogen's operations, Overall asked that all the pending requests be combined and considered looking at their cumulative impact.
"To those living near the plant site, US Nitrogen's flurry of recent requests only reinforces the notion that serious problems exist with the construction and operation of the facility," the letter continues.
Stating that "history is also littered with uncontrolled accidental releases that show an inability to  safely operate this facility," Overall asked the agency to hold a public hearing in Midway, where US Nitrogen is located, before acting on any of the pending requests.
Overall also requested a series of TDEC records regarding US Nitrogen's existing and requested permits. She also questioned why the company did not previously report the excess emissions during start-up or shut-down procedures.