A controversial project in Greene County is one step closer to completion, and people in Greene and Hamblen county are fighting the construction of a 12-mile pipeline that will transport water to and from the Nolichucky River.
The Tennessee Department of Transportation made the announcement Friday. The double pipeline, located in state right-of-ways, is owned by the Greene County Industrial Development Board or IDB. Greene County Mayor Alan Broyles sits on that board and said in a statement, "The high-quality technical jobs that come with companies like U.S. Nitrogen bring much-needed tax revenue and substantial economic impact to our area and will create a brighter future for our children."
But people who live near the Nolichucky River don't agree. Alex Martin who works for the Nolichucky Vineyard says he feels money has become the focus rather than the people who live there. "Personally, I take it as a slap in the face and it's extremely upsetting," adds Martin. "Instead of using their name, they're going to use the old Knox Utility district's name because they have jurisdiction, and that is not right."
Martin feels the IDB's going against the law and his neighbor Eddie Overholt says he's concerned, too. "The Greene County IDB is taking over something that really affects counties around it more than it actually affects them themselves," adds Overholt.
Overholt was the man arrested at the IDB meeting on July 18th after he asked the board if they could speak up. He says this river has been here forever, and what the IDB wants to do just isn't right to him. "I think it's a desecration of the river, of our county and our whole way of life," says Overholt.
U.S. Nitrogen Plant Manager Justin Freeark says, "U.S. Nitrogen is committed to environmental responsibility and is complying with federal, state and local regulations consistent with our stringent environmental permits."
Both Martin and Overholt say their fight's not over yet. "They may get it done, but they're going to get it done over the backs of the people in these counties," says Overholt. "We'll keep fighting it no matter what until it goes through and once it goes through, we're still going to fight it. They're never going to hear the end of me," adds Martin.
Once the facility becomes fully operational, U.S. Nitrogen says it'll provide more than 80 jobs.