By Walter F. Roche Jr.
Tennessee environmental officials say they are investigating three recent complaints from local residents about emissions from US Nitrogen's Greene County manufacturing facility.
Eric Ward, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation said the agency was investigating reports of orange clouds being emitted from the ammonium nitrate plant.
In one complaint a resident reported that orange smoke was billowing from the plant from 1 a.m. to 5 a.m.
Citing a recent town meeting, the complainant said residents have experienced breathing problems as a result of the emissions.
"These complaints are severe," the resident wrote, adding "We remain extremely concerned by TDEC's lack of concern for the health and safety of the people of the Midway area."
The name of the complainant was not provided.
A second resident complained of "pink/orange smoke" and reported residents were experiencing breathing problems and sore throats.
The third complaint from a resident living less than a mile from US Nitrogen said the emissions had become routine, especially at night when it is difficult to take photos.
Another resident living a quarter mile from the plant also has experienced a sore throat and difficulty breathing.
In a related action US Nitrogen filed a report with TDEC on data collected during attempted startups of the nitric acid plant, which is part of the operation. TDEC has previously cited US Nitrogen for running the nitric acid operation when anti-pollution equipment was not in full operation.
US Nitrogen did not respond to requests for comment.