By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Greene County resident Donahue Bible has formally requested a public hearing on the proposed renewal of a US Nitrogen permit to draw millions of gallons of water per day from the Nolichucky River that runs along his property.
"It won’t be beautiful any more, it won’t be drinkable, or usable for much except saving US Nitrogen money," Bible wrote in an affidavit attached to his request for a hearing.
Bible's request follows the notification by the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation of its intent to renew the permit that will allow US Nitrogen to draw some 2 million gallons of water per day from the Nolichucky and return some of it untreated back into the same river.
The notice stated that both US Nitrogen and local residents could request a public hearing on the renewal request.
US Nitrogen officials have announced plans to open the $200 million ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility in Midway on a phased basis early this year. The already installed double barrel pipeline will run from the plant to the river.
US Nitrogen did not immediately respond to a request for comment on the hearing request.
In the affidavit, Bible recounts the history of the 12-mile pipeline which he charges trespasses on his Fish Hatchery Road property.
"They came on our land over my objection in March of 2015, to install the pipelines with the TDOT (Tennessee Department of Transportation) permit. Those lines now cross the front on our property and are on our property, not in a designated State right-of-way," Bible wrote.
Bible charged that both the drawing of water from the river and the return of untreated effluent to the same river will have an adverse effect on his properties.
"When the river loses flow, the water can’t get up and over the shoals and down to our property. It will pond upriver of us. In summer we may lose all of it. Then we lose the fish and the mussels and wildlife, recreation and irrigation. This is just common sense," he wrote.
Stating that he is "legally obligated" to protect his property, Bible said that some 38 of the 40 acres he owns at 3175 Fish Hatchery Road "is in a permanent Wildlife Refuge, permanent Woodlands-Conservation Easement with the Foothills Land Conservancy."
Bible added that the company could obtain the water needed for its manufacturing from the local utility district.
"When the pipes start to leak, or break, we will have a mess on our property and US Nitrogen will come back and trespass. So far, they have been a terrible experience" Bible wrote.
"Water adds value to property. Polluted rivers take value away. We will lose property values with a shallow polluted river of industrial waste along our frontage," Bible concluded, adding that he had no desire to get into a costly court fight, "I just wanted to be left alone."
U S NITROGEN PERMIT NUMBER TN0081566
Please consider this letter and the following information from a sworn affidavit to be my request for a public hearing on this above referenced permit, concerning my property and the effect that this permit has had, and will have, on it.
3175 Fish Hatchery Road
Mohawk, TN 37810