Sunday, August 7, 2016
US Nitrogen Violated Air Rules in Startup
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Officials of US Nitrogen have informed Tennessee environmental officials that they discovered in late July that they violated environmental regulations during startup procedures for an ammonia plant at its Midway complex.
In an Aug 3 letter to officials of the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, plant manager Andrew Velo said the violation was discovered during a late July two day review of the plant's compliance with officials from an environmental consulting firm, EnSafe.
"I write to voluntarily disclose a violation of Tennessee environmental regulations," Velo wrote in the five-page letter to TDEC's air pollution control division.
The violation, according to Velo's letter, occurred due to a misinterpretation of rules regarding the use of Selective Catalytic Reduction (SCR) equipment during the startup of the ammonia plant and what constituted "full operation."
US Nitrogen and its spokeswoman did not immediately respond Sunday to requests for comment on the disclosure and whether the violation might delay the plant's full startup.
SCR equipment, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency, is utilized to monitor and control nitrous oxide emissions.
"During a recent internal compliance review, it became apparent that US Nitrogen's interpretation with regard to SCR operation during plant startup periods was incorrect."
He added that "during certain periods of our repeated attempts to start up and continuously operate our ammonia plant, the SCR was not fully operational."
Velo added that due to the requirement an amendment to US Nitrogen's existing permit may be necessary.
Contending that "there is some ambiguity in the regulations," Velo said that the company was now voluntarily disclosing the violation.
"The violation was not discovered through a legally mandated activity prescribed by statute, regulation, permit, judicial or administrative order or consent agreement," the Velo wrote, adding that the company disclosed the violation promptly or within 21 days.
"US Nitrogen plans to work with the (TDEC) division to determine if the appropriate actions can be completed within 60 days as required or if the remedial efforts will require more than 60 days," he wrote.
Velo added that "US Nitrogen agrees to take whatever steps are necessary to prevent a recurrence of this violation."
The disclosure comes a little over a month after TDEC officials completed a lengthy review of US Nitrogen's compliance with its multiple permits. The inspection report cited multiple violations but concluded that the facility was generally meeting requirements.