Friday, September 4, 2015

Opponents Prepare for IDB US Nitrogen Vote

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

With a key vote just days away, opponents of the $200 million US Nitrogen project are signing up for a chance to voice their concerns to the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County.
The IDB has set an 8:30 a.m. meeting time on Wednesday to vote on the settlement of a suit that challenged the legality of a major aspect of the project: the free use of millions of gallons of water per day from the Nolichucky River.
Those wishing to speak at the session must notify the mayor's office at 798-1766 by 9:30 a.m. Tuesday.
Among those who have signed up to testify are Park Overall and Scott Hurley, an attorney who represents several of the US Nitrogen project. The vote comes as the  plant, which will produce tons of ammonium nitrate per week, is nearing operational status.
Under the settlement the Old Knox Utility District will drop its objections to the free use of Nolichucky River water by US Nitrogen. Old Knox also will allow two other companies, Yara North America and Praxair, to use water from the Nolichucky. The specific language of the agreement would allow the substitution of another company for Praxair.
The suit filed for the utility district had challenged the legality of an arrangement allowing the companies to bypass the utility, thus avoiding the need to purchase water from the district.
The 11-page settlement agreement already has been approved by the utility district and US Nitrogen officials have announced their approval.
Any other companies seeking to use the pipeline would be required to give the utility district a 60-day right of first refusal to provide any needed services.
Also included in the settlement is a one time payment of $50,000 by US Nitrogen to the district, but half of that total would be set aside for services or improvements benefiting US Nitrogen or the other two companies.
US Nitrogen also has agreed to pay the district a minimum of $10,000 a month for potable water purchased from the district.

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