By Walter F. Roche Jr.
US Nitrogen has paid $19,000 in fines imposed by Tennessee environmental officials due to the company's failure to submit data and complete testing by required deadlines.
Eric Ward, spokesman for the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, confirmed today that the company paid the fines. The Midway firm could have filed an appeal, but let the filing deadline pass.
The fines were set out in two seven page orders issued in June by Michelle Owenby, a TDEC technical secretary.
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.
While TDEC could have fined the company some $25,000 a day for the infractions, it set a fine of $9,500. 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 due to US Nitrogen's failure to conduct required emissions tests on its 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 this month.
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.