GREENEVILLE, Tenn. (AP) — An eastern Tennessee county is considering asking the state again for permits that would allow US Nitrogen to build miles-long pipelines to and from the Nolichucky River.
The Greene County Industrial Development Board wants the state to grant right of way permits for the pipeline, arguing that multiple companies could use the structures once they are in place.
The Greeneville Sun reported (http://bit.ly/1mR2EEq ) that state regulators rejected a previous request for the permits because they concluded that only US Nitrogen would benefit from the project. One of the criteria for the state right of way for private use is that applicants must show the project in question will benefit the greater public.
Only public entities can apply to use public right of way. If the IDB is granted the permit, the board would lease the pipeline to US Nitrogen for its uses.
The board will meet Friday to discuss whether to file new applications.
US Nitrogen is proposing to discharge water into the river from its cooling cycle. The Tennessee Department of Conservation says this won't hurt the environment downstream.
TDEC has approved water and air quality permits for the plant.
Development Board attorney Jerry Laughlin said no other parties will be named in the new application. Laughlin said the new documents will make clear that US Nitrogen will not be the only party benefiting from the proposed pipelines.
"But we believe there are other companies that will be affiliated with the products that are made by US Nitrogen that may want to use the pipeline," he said.
Yara, a Norwegian company, also plans to build a plant on the US Nitrogen site to produce liquid calcium nitrate.
Another yet-unnamed company would also locate on the site to capture carbon dioxide emitted from US Nitrogen's operations, convert the gas to liquid in a process known as "liquefaction," and sell the liquid carbon dioxide to other companies.
Part of the controversy swirling around US Nitrogen is whether the company needs to go to the Nolichucky River for its water supply. Company officials have said repeatedly that the Old Knoxville Highway Utility District would not be able to guarantee the plant would have all the water it needs to operate throughout an entire day.
US Nitrogen plans on collecting as much as 1.9 million gallons per day from the Nolichucky and discharging about a half-million gallons per day.
Old Knox General Manager Jonathan Stepp said there may be enough legal gray area to allow for a company to pipe in non-potable water, but he emphasized that's his opinion, not the official opinion of the utility district's board.
"I think there probably is wording that allows them to use the right of way but not infringe on our rights," he said.