Tuesday, July 21, 2015
US Nitrogen Shipments Could Stay In Tennessee
By Walter F. Roche Jr
Truckloads of ammonium nitrate from the new US Nitrogen plant in Mosheim could be shipped not to some distant location but just 106 miles down the road to a federally licensed explosives manufacturing facility in LaFollette, TN.
State and federal records show Austin Powder, the parent company of US Nitrogen, operates the Tennessee explosives manufacturing facility that has been in operation since 2002 in LaFollette at 375 Austin Powder Lane.
US Nitrogen officials did not immediately respond to questions about the LaFollette plant and whether some or all of the ammonium nitrate produced in Mosheim will be shipped to LaFollete for processing to manufacture explosives.
In public statements and on its website US Nitrogen has repeatedly stressed that explosives will not be produced in Mosheim and they have stated that the ammonium nitrate will be shipped to Austin plants across the country.
"The majority of the product will be shipped east of the Mississippi River as far north as Canada and as far south as Florida," the US Nitrogen's website states.
The LaFollette plant, state licensing records show, was found to be out of compliance on May 19 of this year for failure to conduct required quarterly inspections of an unnamed stream that flows into nearby Big Creek.
State reports show that the site was found to be back in compliance with state regulations on July 10.
According to the state report, the plant is on a 115 acre site and 40 of those acres are used for manufacturing.
The report states that the facility uses ammonium nitrate and fuel oil to "produce Austinite Blasting Agents. A mobile mix plant is used to produce emulsion blasting agent several times a month."
The same facility was cited by officials of the federal Bureau of Tobacco and Firearms in 2004 for making false entries in records required under Austin's federal license.
A total of 25 violations were recorded during a three day inspection of the facility in mid-April of 2005.
The Tennessee violations were among dozens from other Austin Powder facilities across the country noted in a 2005 plea agreement filed in U.S. District Court in Pennsylvania. Austin agreed to a five day shutdown of the LaFollete plant as part of the settlement.
Under the plea deal Austin agreed to pay a little over $1 million in fines and penalties. Several of its other facilities were shutdown for similar periods of time, court records show.
Nearly a decade earlier Austin was fined $7 million when it entered a guilty plea to price fixing charges.
In addition to the LaFollette plant, records show Ohio based Austin owns two parcels of land in Sullivan County that were purchased in 2007. One parcel is 11 acres and the other 43 acres.