Five years after breaking ground, and almost three years behind schedule, US Nitrogen's ammonium nitrate plant in Tennessee has finally reached "full production capacity."
This project has been so fraught with problems - permitting, compliance, engineering design, construction, community acceptance, health and safety - that it wasn't always obvious whether the plant would ever be fully operational. Even now, a raft of legal challenges remain unresolved.
The grand SNAFU named US Nitrogen appears to have come to a temporary pause.
Despite starting up all the units over the last few months - nitric acid, ammonium nitrate, ammonia - the regulatory teams at state and federal levels overseeing US Nitrogen now appear to have come in and closed the site down, until they can enforce environmental and safety standards.
US Nitrogen hasn't publicly announced that its new ANSOL plant is operational, yet, but it has advised regulators that the plants have started up. Its reps are telling the local press that it will be operational by "the end of summer."
In the meantime, the team is rectifying a newly-identified spate of permit violations and deficiencies - which is a little awkward, because regulators are presently considering its permit renewals, which met with great resistance from the local community during the public comment period.
Austin Powder's new $225+ million ammonium nitrate plant was supposed to begin operations in March 2014. Now, more than two years late, the US Nitrogen plant at Greeneville, TN, is still in start-up mode.
Yes, there has been a lot of local opposition. Yes, permit revisions and all the appeals have slowed progress. But there were also technical, engineering causes for the ongoing delays.
US Nitrogen has just made some of these problems public.
SUMMARY STATUS: Operational
US Nitrogen broke ground in February 2012, when it expected its new plant to start up in March 2014 - since then, the project has been fraught with problems. Permits were revised and reissued repeatedly, and the site has had major issues with compliance. The local community demonstrated tremendous resistance, launching permit appeals and a slew of lawsuits, some still ongoing. Construction and design issues led to major delays and lawsuits. The start-up process began in May 2015 but the ammonia plant didn't start up until June 2016. In August 2016, the site was temporarily shut down and was under federal and state investigation. The company announced that the plant was fully operational in January 2017 but even now it isn't clear the plant is producing much if any product.