Homeowners near US Nitrogen upset they weren’t notified about nitric acid leak

GREENE COUNTY, TN (WJHL) – Investigators are still trying to determine what caused a nitric acid vapor leak at the US Nitrogen plant in Greene County Wednesday night.

This is the second leak in the past eight months at US Nitrogen.

News Channel 11 learned two people were sent to the hospital following the leak as a precaution.

But a lot of people who live nearby, such as Brian Smith, say they weren’t even aware of the leak until after it was contained.

“We never got no notification or anything. We just seen the fire trucks and the crash truck and probably about 10 load of cops over there,” Smith said.

Leeroy Hurst lives just down the street from the plant and said he didn’t find out about the leak until he saw it on the news.

“It was really shocking to us that we live right here next to them and they seemly was not really concerned about it,” Hurst said.

Greene County Mayor, David Crum, said officials did notify people who lived nearly the Walmart Distribution Center to stay indoors.

“There was some neighbors in the area we did not contact because the sheriff was the first on and he realized the vapor was moving away from them, but they notified the neighbors in the area,” Mayor Crum said.

He said two people were taken to the hospital for observation.

“There was a couple of people that did go to get checked out. But don’t know their condition,” he said.

Mayor Crum said no employees were evacuated during the leak.

The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation, Hazmat, and the Greeneville Fire Department responded.

“They didn’t pick up anything of any significance in their detection devices,” Crum said.

But neighbors tell News Channel 11 this plant has them concerned not only for their health, but they are also afraid of potential explosions. Melvin McMurray said he would like to see better communication in the future.

“Anytime that anything like this does happen which way to go to, you know what I mean?” McMurray said.

Hurst echoed that response.

“Is that something that neighbors here are going to have to be concerned about from now on? Because this is serious to us,” Hurst said.

TDEC is investigating the leak.

Mayor Crum says there will be a follow up with emergency management and US Nitrogen as well.

US Nitrogen issued a statement Wednesday night announcing the vapor release.

We followed up, asking how much nitric acid vapor was released, what the potential impact of a release like the one last night could have on people nearby, and whether the plant has remained fully operational after the release.

US Nitrogen said parts of the facility are running as normal and other parts will be back online very soon.

US Nitrogen said they cannot provide further information at this time.

Copyright 2017 WJHL. All rights reserved.

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