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 Some but not all of the withdrawn water has later been returned to the river, according to the most recent report.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.