By Walter F. Roche Jr.
A Greene County Commissioner has introduced a resolution that he says could force US Nitrogen to leave its $220 million chemical manufacturing facility within a year.
Stating that the company has failed to keep any of its promises to local residents, Commissioner Eddie Jennings said his resolution would effectively revoke the 2011 rezoning that enabled the ammonium nitrate manufacturer to locate in the county.
Under his resolution the US Nitrogen site would revert to agricultural zoning and the company would have one year to vacate the premises.
Jennings acknowledged in an interview that county attorneys told him his resolution was not legal, but he has decided to press the issue.
"They (US Nitrogen) need to make good on all the things they lied about," Jennings said, adding that his resolution should come up at the commissioners' July meeting.
He said US Nitrogen promised to buy water from the local utility district and to use the local wastewater treatment facilities. Those promises would have generated considerable income.
Instead, Jennings said, the company is taking water from the Nolichucky River and discharging wastewater back into the river without paying anything.
Jennings said his concerns about the company were heightened by recent events including the discharge of toxic vapors from the Midway facility.
"My grandson goes to a school not far from there," Jennings said, noting the concerns about the lack of a warning system to notify local residents of emergency situations at the plant.
Jennings said he does expect some support from other commissioners but in any case his resolution should force US Nitrogen to answer "a whole lot of questions."