Monday, June 12, 2017
TDEC Fines US Nitrogen $19,000
By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Tennessee environmental officials have imposed fines totaling $19,000 against US Nitrogen for failing to submit required annual certifications and for failure to complete testing required under one of its permits.
The fines, which could have been substantially larger, were set in two seven page orders issued by Michelle Owenby, a technical secretary for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation. Notices of the fines were sent to US Nitrogen late last week.
The TDEC fines are in addition to separate penalties totaling some $18,000 imposed recently on the Greene County chemical firm by the town of Mosheim. Those penalties were issued due to excess levels of pollutants in wastewater discharged by US Nitrogen to the local water treatment facility.
One of the TDEC fines was imposed due to US Nitrogen's failure to timely submit required annual certifications on its compliance with the standards set under its permits. The company was required to certify that it was properly following its accidental release plan under each of those permits.
US Nitrogen already had acknowledged that the reports were filed late.
The state could have fined the company some $25,000 a day for the infractions. One certification that was due on Jan. 31 was not submitted until April 21. Other certifications of compliance were due on March 31 but were not submitted until May 2.
The reports were required under the permits including one for the anhydrous ammonium nitrate operations and one for the use of open flares.
The second fine was imposed for failure to conduct required emissions tests on the company's nitric acid plant. The startup of that facility has been marked by problems including the release of toxic gases on at least two occasions.
According to the violation notice, US Nitrogen was supposed to have completed emissions testing for the acid plant by April 29 of this year, one year after the official startup. US Nitrogen has stated that those tests won't be finally completed until August.