By Walter F. Roche Jr.
US Nitrogen will continue construction of its pipeline project in the wake of a hearing on a suit aimed at blocking the 12 mile long excavation.
In a statement issued Tuesday, US Nitrogen President Justin Freeark said, "US Nitrogen will move forward with pipeline construction as scheduled."
He added that the pipeline and the entire project, including an ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility, are expected to be completed in the first quarter of 2015.
"We remain committed to this solution,"he said in a statement, referring to the plan to pump water from the Nolichucky River to US Nitrogen for cooling towers.
is our new home, and we strive to be a good corporate citizen and
partner to Greene County, Freeark concluded.
Freeark's comments came following a Monday hearing in Greene County Chancery Court in which US Nitrogen's lawyers challenged the timing of filings made by the landowners who oppose the pipeline project. They later withdrew that motion after an agreement was reached on the timing of future briefs and a hearing.
Chancery Judge Douglas Jenkins scheduled a hearing on all pending motions for Jan. 22.
Landowners who filed the suit have expressed concern that by the time the court acts on the suit the pipeline will be virtually completed.
In a statement issued after the Monday hearing D. Scott Hurley, the plaintiffs' attorney, said that while he was pleased with the outcome, the one drawback was the fact that US Nitrogen can continue construction at least until Jan. 22.
"But the court is fully aware that we are contending that the construction is illegal. US Nitrogen is disregarding these risks and forging ahead with their construction," Hurley said. "US Nitrogen is making a conscious decision to accept the risk that their project is illegal."