Tuesday, February 16, 2016
State Signals Approval for US Nitrogen Water Permit
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
State officials have notified US Nitrogen that they intend to approve the renewal of a key water discharge permit needed to draw millions of gallons of water per day from the Nolichucky River.
In a notice sent to US Nitrogen, officials of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation stated they intend to approve a renewal for the permit which has been under an administrative extension since it expired last year.
US Nitrogen needs the permit to both draw and discharge water from the Nolichucky in the production of ammonium nitrate.
Records show US Nitrogen filed a renewal application on June 2, 2015. The existing permit had a Nov. 30, 2015 expiration date.
TDEC officials disclosed late last year that they had granted an administrative extension for the permit since the application had been submitted well in advance of the scheduled expiration.
In the recent notice to US Nitrogen plant manager Andrew Velo, TDEC Manager Vojin Janic said a notice would be issued informing the public of its intent to issue the permit.
"The notice affords the public an opportunity to review the draft permit and, if necessary, request a hearing on this issuance process," the notice states.
TDEC spokesman Eric Ward said today that thus far no hearing requests have been submitted.
It also gives US Nitrogen 30 days to file an appeal if it disagrees with any provisions of the permit.
"The issuance of an official modified permit is contingent upon your meeting all of the requirements of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act and the Rules and Regulations of the Tennessee Water Quality, Oil and Gas Board," the notice adds.
A copy of the 37-page draft permit, along with several appendices, is attached to the notification
The same permit file shows that magnesium levels in all groundwater monitoring spots on the US Nitrogen site recently showed levels substantially exceeding benchmark levels. The company has attributed the readings to naturally occurring factors and the recent application of fertilizers.
US Nitrogen has already constructed a 12-mile double pipeline to move water to and from the river. According to the application, the pipeline enters the river at 20.8 miles from its origin.
Also pending before TDEC is a US Nitrogen air permit that would triple the level of allowable emissions of nitrous oxide at the Midway facility, which is slated to open shortly.
February 5, 2016
Mr. Andrew Velo, Plant Manger
US Nitrogen LLC
471 Pottertown Road
Midway, TN 37809
Subject: Draft of NPDES Permit No. TN0081566
US Nitrogen LLC
Midway, Greene County, Tennessee
Dear Mr. Velo:
Enclosed please find a draft copy of the NPDES Permit No. TN0081566 which the Division of Water Resources proposes to issue. This draft copy is furnished to you solely for your review of its provisions. No wastewater discharges are authorized by this modified permit. The issuance of an official modified permit is contingent upon your meeting all of the requirements of the Tennessee Water Quality Control Act and the Rules and Regulations of the Tennessee Water Quality, Oil and Gas Board.
Also enclosed is a copy of the public notice that announces our intent to issue this permit. The notice affords the public an opportunity to review the draft permit and, if necessary, request a public hearing on this issuance process. If you disagree with the provisions and requirements contained in the draft permit, you have thirty (30) days from the date of this correspondence to notify the division of your objections. If your objections cannot be resolved, you may appeal this permit upon issuance. This appeal should be filed in accordance with Section 69-3-110 of the Tennessee Code Annotated.
If you have questions, please contact the Johnson City Environmental Field Office at 1-888-891-TDEC; or, at this office, please contact Mr. Vojin Janjic at (615) 532-0670 or by E-mail at Vojin.Janjic@tn.gov.
Manager, Water-Based Systems