Tuesday, May 24, 2016

US Nitrogen Files Additional Start-Up Notices

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen has filed additional start-up notifications with Tennessee environmental officials amid multiple signs the Midway facility is gearing up for full operation.
Notices posted on the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation web site show the notices include the start-up of the anyhydrous ammonia production plant.
In previous notices US Nitrogen had indicated that plant was not yet ready to begin operations.
Other start-up notices filed by the Austin Powder subsidiary include a nitric acid plant, a steam generation boiler and a gasoline dispensing facility.
The filings list start-up dates ranging from early to mid-May.
The $200 million facility includes a double barrel 12-mile pipeline to the Nolichucky River. The plant will utilize millions of gallons of river water to run cooling towers. Some, but not all of the river water, will then be returned to the river.
The pipeline and use of the river water has been the most controversial aspect of the ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility. Several local residents have protested the use of the river.
TDEC has scheduled a June 9 public hearing on the proposed five-year renewal of a key permit for the plant's operation.
US Nitrogen officials have not responded to repeated requests for comment on the status of the start-up operations. Earlier they indicated a phased-in start-up would begin this year.
Contact: wfrochejr999@gmail.com

Tuesday, May 17, 2016

US Nitrogen Notifies State of Partial Startup

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Officials of US Nitrogen have officially informed state environment officials of the startup of some but not all operations at its new $200 million Greene County facility.
In a one-page letter with multiple attachments, Theo Van Niekerk, plant engineer, informed the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation that cooling towers and a flare system were operating but an anhydrous ammonium production plant "is not ready for start up."
Listed in the formal notice of startup were the nitric acid plant, steam generation plant, ammonium nitrate solution plant and a gasoline dispensing facility.
The letter dated May 9 was posted on the TDEC website this week.
"It is our understanding," the letter continues, "based on discussions with the Division of Air Pollution Control personnel and language contained in the permits- that start up notification for the cooling towers and the flares should be submitted once the anyhydrous ammonia production plant is started."
The formal notice comes following a series of signals that actual operations might be set to begin.
In recent notices to TDEC, US Nitrogen has disclosed it has begun drawing millions of gallons of water from the Nolichucky River. Some but not all of the withdrawn water has later been returned to the river, according to the most recent report.
The use of the river water and the 12 mile pipelines to and from the river have proven to be the most controversial among local residents.
TDEC recently announced it will hold a June 9 public hearing on a proposed five year renewal of one of the company's key permits.
US Nitrogen officials have declined to respond to numerous recent requests for information about the start up activities at the facility.

Thursday, May 12, 2016

US Nitrogen Reports Discharging Water to River

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

US Nitrogen has reported to Tennessee environmental officials that it discharged some 1.6 million gallons of water into the Nolichucky River during the month of April.
The discharges ranging from 388,189 gallons per day to 648,405 gallons per day were recorded from April 23 to April 25, according to the report filed with the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation by US Nitrogen.
The firm also reported withdrawing 451,372 gallons of water from the river on April 1.
TDEC records show that the ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility first began withdrawing large amounts of water from the river in March.
The company report for that month showed 1.23623 million gallons were withdrawn from the river in the last few days of the month.
US Nitrogen officials have not responded to requests for information on the reasons for the withdrawals and subsequent discharges.
The company has not yet announced a date for beginning operations, although in a suit filed in U.S. District Court in Georgia, lawyers for US Nitrogen have charged that errors by an engineering firm have caused delays in beginning operations.
The April US Nitrogen report to TDEC, like the one submitted for March, was signed by Andrew Velo, the manager of the facility.
The monthly withdrawal and discharge reports are required under one of US Nitrogen's state environmental permits.
In a related matter TDEC has scheduled a hearing for June 9 on the proposed five year renewal of the permit authorizing US Nitrogen to discharge millions of gallons per day to the Nolichucky River. The session at West Greene High School will begin at 6 p.m. with a one hour question and answer session. Formal testimony will begin at 7 p.m.


Friday, May 6, 2016

Judge Issues Dismissal in Pipeline Suit

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

A Davidson Chancery Court judge has issued an eight-page ruling officially dismissing a suit brought by six residents of Greene and Cocke County challenging the legality of a state permit for a controversial pipeline project.
In the decision formally issued Thursday, Judge Claudia C. Bonnyman concluded that none of the plaintiffs met the three requirements needed under Tennessee law to challenge the pipeline permit issued by the Tennessee Department of Transportation.
Bonnyman had verbally ruled against the suit months ago, but had not issued a formal written ruling.
The suit was brought by Ann Calfee, Don Bible, Jack Renner, Jeremiah Cluesman, Ruth Dolin and Reuben Stone.
All live along the Nolichucky River, the starting and ending point for the 12-mile pipeline already built to accommodate US Nitrogen, which intends to use millions of gallons of water per day in the production of ammonium nitrate at its new Greene County facility.
Bonnyman in her decision did not reach the central question raised in the suit: whether TDOT had the legal authority to grant the permit to a company that was admittedly not a public utility.
Instead Bonnyman focused on the the legal standing of the six plaintiffs to bring the suit in the first place.
She concluded that none of the petitioners met any of the three state law requirements.
"The petitioners have not experienced any direct injury due to the issuance of the permit by TDOT; no causal connection exists between the issuance of the permit and the injuries alleged by the petitioners; and the petitioners alleged injuries cannot be redressed by revoking the permit," the ruling states.
The suit is one of several filed in efforts to block the US Nitrogen project. Other challenges have been rejected in Greene County courts.
According to records of the state Department of Environment and Conservation US Nitrogen has begun to draw water from the Nolichucky although the plant itself has not formally begun operations.
Bonnyman's ruling granted motions to dismiss filed by TDOT, US Nitrogen and the Industrial Development Board of Greeneville and Greene County.

Tuesday, May 3, 2016

TDEC Sets Hearing On Key US Nitrogen Permit

By Walter F. Roche Jr.

Responding to a flood of requests from Greene County area residents, state environmental officials have set a June 9 hearing date on the proposed five-year renewal of a key permit for US Nitrogen.
In an announcement Tuesday the state Department of Environment and Conservation stated the June 9 official hearing will be preceded by a one hour open house or public information session.
While citizens will be allowed to ask questions from 6 p.m. to 7 p.m. a formal public hearing will begin at 7 during which residents will be allowed to testify only. The hearing will be held in the gymnasium of the West Greene High School.
The notice also indicates a time limit may be set on individual testimony.
At issue is TDEC's proposed renewal for five years of a permit authorizing US Nitrogen to discharge millions of gallons of cooling water into the Nolichucky River at mile marker 20.8.
The cooling water, which will have previously been drawn from the Nolichucky, will be utilized in cooling towers for the production of nitric acid, ammonia and ammonium nitrate, according to the notice.
Notice of the agency's intent to issue the permit already has drawn protests and questions from local residents including Park Overall, one of those to call for a public hearing.
TDEC has stated in response to some of those questions, that the permit does not involve the drawing of water from the Nolichucky, a process apparently covered by another state permit.
Recent reports filed with TDEC show that US Nitrogen already has begun drawing water from the river. According to the report more than 1.2 million gallons were withdrawn during a five day period at the end of March.
 Overall also has questioned why TDEC is proposing to issue a permit for five years for a plant that is not yet even in operation.
"There is no basis for this permit action," she wrote in one email to TDEC officials.
The local resident  also has questioned action by TDEC on another US Nitrogen notice involving stormwater runoff from a water treatment plant located on the US Nitrogen property.
While the permit mentions the runoff, it provides no details on the water treatment plant.
Contact: wfrochejr999@gmail.com