Tate & Lyle emissions

Public Hearing request

By: Pat Hunter

October 06, 2008

The stench from the Blairbend Industrial park could just turn your stomach on certain days.

Are you concerned about the levels of hazardous air pollutants emitting from the nearby industrial parks?

At least one industry has had some problems meeting their permit limits. First, several months ago and now again. The Loudon County Air Quality Task Force is supposed to advice local government on reducing pollution but several months ago, they would not take a stand to request a public hearing on that permit issue.

In August 2005, Tate & Lyle announced a $75 Million expansion at the Loudon plant. Do you remember the big story, Tate & Lyle would increase production and lower pollution? Well, guess what, it hasn't worked out exactly as they promised!

It was supposed to take 18 months to construct and install the pollution controls and Tate & Lyle would be allowed to increase ethanol production by 37 million gallons per year. According to media print, “Tate & Lyle promised to install pollution controls and change manufacturing processes to significantly reduce the organic chemicals, including, acetaldehyde and formaldehyde, which are now emitted by the plant's stacks... reduce by about 50 percent the previously allowed level of sulfur dioxide emissions.” The $75 Million expansion is separate from the $80 Million joint venture DuPont plant, which is located adjacent to the existing Tate & Lyle plant. “The joint venture will produce propanediol, the key ingredient for Sorona, a DuPont polymer used in fabrics and carpeting.”

In the September 17-18, 2008 News Herald, located in the classified section was a Public Notice, requests for construction and modification from Tate & Lyle (A.E. Staley) to the Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation (TDEC). 

Tate & Lyle is seeking to obtain an air contaminant permit for the modification of their alcohol production operation.

The Loudon plant produces ethanol and high fructose corn syrup. This plant is located near residential developments, parks, town center, senior citizen facility, new condos, etc. Pollution has no boundaries.

According to the permit request, the existing operation consists of fermenters with a CO2 (carbon dioxide) scrubber for control of volatile organic compounds. This proposed modification would increase the allowable emissions of volatile organic compounds.    

The Tate & Lyle plant is still a major polluter in Loudon County and some people still seem to complain about the emission levels irritating eyes, nose and throats. The Tennessee Department of Environment and Conservation granted Tate & Lyle a permit but what about the expectations to lower its emissions, which Tate & Lyle can’t seem to meet.  

The Loudon County Air Quality Task Force and TDEC both seem to make one excuse after another for Tate & Lyle’s permit problems.

Just last month, the local Loudon Air Quality Task Force did not meet due a quorum problem. A couple of months ago, the task force had a similar problem. It is now rumored, that at least three task force members have resigned. TDEC said that it is not appropriate for Assistant TDEC Deputy Quincy Styke to be on the task force because he is a regulator. Years ago, Clean Air Friends spoke about this matter, CAF thought that it was a conflict of interest for Styke to serve on the task force since he was a regulator while working to approve the Tate & Lyle - DuPont permit. Styke's substitute Vick Malichis with the Knoxville TDEC office will no longer attend the task force meetings, regularly. More bad news, TDEC has plans to remove the air monitors at the Ft. Loudon Middle School and Webb Dr. location behind Carls’ Drive-In, sometime in the near future.   

By law, a Public Notice is required and a 30-day comment period for the proposed requests for construction and modification of air contaminants. Interested parties may request a Public Hearing from TDEC regarding the Tate & Lyle permit.

You have until October 16th to make a request for a Public Hearing concerning the Tate & Lyle permit to increase VOCs. Please take the time to send your E-mail request to

Tate & Lyle has yet to test its stacks to check the levels of its emissions. To read more about this click Burning Question.

TDEC can also explain why Tate & Lyle was allowed to increase production and why TDEC won't enforce Tate & Lyle's permit and Clean Air regulations?