Thursday, May 11, 2017
US Nitrogen Files Late Testing Schedule
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Officials of US Nitrogen, the Greene County chemical company, have informed state regulators that testing on a troublesome nitric acid plant won't be completed until late June, nearly two months after the original April 29 deadline.
In a letter to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation Andrew Velo, US Nitrogen plant manager, said a 30 day test of the nitric acid plant's nitrous oxide emissions will begin May 22.
Following the 30 days of operation, Velo wrote that the company will compile the results and submit them to the agency.
The revised testing schedule follows TDEC's notification that US Nitrogen was in violation of its permit because all required testing was not completed despite an extension granted earlier. US Nitrogen had requested a second extension but that was denied.
In notifying US Nitrogen of the violation, state officials said they had not yet determined whether any penalty will be imposed.
"The division is evaluating the appropriate enforcement response for your company's failure to timely test and report," the May 5 letter from TDEC Deputy Director James P. Johnson states.
Velo's letter, dated Wednesday, also disclosed that a series of other tests on the plant have been completed. Some of those test results have already been submitted while others are still being compiled.
According to Velo ammonia emissions testing was completed on April 27. Also completed was a continuous emissions monitoring test on April 28.
Startup of the nitric acid plant has been delayed several times, most recently due to a blown gasket that caused the release of toxic nitrogen gases. That in turn triggered a response from emergency management agencies.
It also triggered concern from some local residents that there is currently no countywide emergency response alarm system.
In another recent development, Mosheim officials issued a notice that US Nitrogen was in violation of rules governing the operation of the Lick Creek Water Treatment facility. According to the notice US Nitrogen was one of two companies that during 2016 discharged effluent to the treatment plant that had not been properly pre-treated.
A subsidiary of Ohio-based Austin Powder, US Nitrogen produces ammonium nitrate which Austin uses in the production of explosives.