Saturday, August 27, 2016
US Nitrogen Seeks CO2 Permit Amendment
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Even as three recent incidents remain under investigation, US Nitrogen is seeking state approval to amend the permit for its carbon dioxide production facility.
In a three-page letter and an 11-page attachment, the company is seeking to move the location of the carbon dioxide facility on its 500-acre site and to increase its output.
The application seeks approval for a 20 percent increase in the capacity for its evaporative cooler, boosting the output from 2,000 gallons per minute to 2,400 gallons per minute.
The application comes amid three incidents at the $200 million facility, one involving serious injury to an employee, who had to be sent by emergency aircraft to a Georgia medical facility specializing in the treatment of burns.
Pictures of the injured worker show his heavily bandaged face shortly after the incident earlier this month.
The matter is under investigation by the state Department of Labor and Workforce Development.
The other two incidents involve apparent problems in startup operations at the ammonium nitrate manufacturing facility.
The most recent incident, photographed by local residents, was the Aug. 23 release of an orange cloud, apparently nitrous oxide, that hung over the facility.
Records at the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation state that the problem was reported by a "co-worker" and is under investigation.
The third incident was the self-reporting by the company of a violation of state air pollution regulations during the startup.
In the permit application submitted this week to TDEC for the carbon dioxide plant, Andrew Velo, US Nitrogen's plant manager, said the proposed increase in the maximum water throughput "will have no effect on potential emissions from the evaporative cooler."
In addition the application seeks approval for the installation of an additional vent, which he said would not result in any increased emissions.
According to Velo's letter TDEC officials met with US Nitrogen's environmental consulting firm in late July to discuss the proposed amendments. Praxair, the company that will operate the carbon dioxide plant, participated in the meeting by phone, according to Velo's letter.
"When the US Nitrogen ammonia plant is operating and CO2 liquefaction facility is not operating, the valve in the interconnecting pipeline will be closed and the gas stream will be vented to the atmosphere," the letter states.