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KEDB approves temporary lease with railroad tie recycler

April 15th, 2014 10:59 pm by Hank Hayes

KEDB approves temporary lease with railroad tie recycler

KINGSPORT — The Kingsport Economic Development Board has approved a temporary lease with an Indiana-based company planning to grind up old railroad ties and supply the material to the downtown Domtar paper mill.

The company is the National Salvage & Service Corp. (NSSC), which plans to establish an operation on the old General Shale property off Industry Drive.

"If this works, it could be a great cost savings to Domtar," Kingsport Mayor Dennis Phillips, an ex-officio KEDB member, said of the lease arrangement.

NSSC bills itself as the "country's largest, most experienced and most trusted recycler" of railroad ties.

The company says it removes more than one-half million railroad ties from tracks across the country annually, with most available for reuse.

Those old railroad ties, according to NSSC, generally find new life as fence posts, decorative landscaping project supplies and retaining walls.

Still, KEDB members noted NSSC's grinding operation might have noise and emissions issues.

"I would think you would have to have some sort of threshold (to allow NSSC to continue to operate)," KEDB Vice Chairman Bill Dudney pointed out.

KEDB member Keith Wilson, Times-News publisher, added: "If (NSSC) operates within the (municipal) ordinances on the books, then it is operating successfully as a business. ... It seems to me the standard is ... does it meet the noise ordinance?"

KEDB members decided the lease will be contingent upon NSSC operating within the city code.

"We have the final say-so and that's how we should write the lease. ... It's not up for negotiation. ... This board is the one entering into the lease," Dudney said.

Domtar Mill Manager Bill MacPherson assured KEDB members that Domtar's tolerance for any significant complaints is going to be very low.

"We don't want to draw any negative attention to ourselves," MacPherson said. "This offers some local employment and benefit, but if we're getting articles and complaints in the (news)paper about odor, it's not going to be a very high threshold. We'll be in here with you looking for other opportunities."

The city and KEDB acquired the nearly 100-acre former General Shale site more than a year ago and intend to use it to create new ballfields as well as for economic development purposes.

For more about NSSC go to

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