GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Operations are temporarily suspended at a U.S. Nitrogen plant in Greene County after an equipment malfunction.
People in the community say they have been concerned for a while. WJHL received photos of huge plumes of yellow-orange smoke coming from the U.S. Nitrogen Nitric Acid Plant on Potter Town Road in Mosheim.
Jimmy and Jean have seen the smoke often. Their concern for emissions coming from the plant have grown.
“We do not feel safe here,” Wright said.
U.S. Nitrogen says it exceeded federal requirements for the amount of certain gases it can release in a 24-hour period. The plant is calling it an equipment failure and have notified the state of Tennessee.
A statement from the plant manager says in part:
“In compliance with reporting requirements, U.S. Nitrogen notified the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency of this exceedance and also notified the Greeneville/Greene County Office of Emergency Management and the Tennessee Emergency Management Agency.”
“I want the state to check it out and make sure that it is safe around here and that we are not breathing toxic fumes or nothing,” Jimmy Wright said.
U.S. Nitrogen does not believe the gasses pose any risk to human health or surrounding properties.
The Environmental Protection Agency and the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation are investigating. State officials say it is too early to say if enforcement action will be taken.
The company is completing the final steps of the startup processes of its plants in Greene County and anticipates being fully operational within the next few weeks.