Friday, July 19, 2013

Some small towns, hungry for jobs, are willing to risk being sites of chemical and fertilizer plants

Some small-town officials say they are willing to risk allowing the opening a fertilizer plant -- like the one that exploded in West, Tex., killing 15 people -- if it means the plant revitalizes the local economy and provides much-needed jobs, David Mercer and Ramit Plushnick-Masti report for The Associated Press. "Booming demand for corn and newly abundant supplies of natural gas" are leading corporations to make proposals to build billion dollar plants in small towns, promising "thousands of jobs during construction and hundreds of full-time spots once they're up and running," (AP photo by Tony Gutierrez: The remains of the fertilizer plant in West)

One example is Cronus Chemicals, which wants to build a $1.2 billion plant to manufacture nitrogen-based fertilizer in the 4,500-population town of Tuscola, Ill., which already has a large chemical plant near the proposed fertilizer site. Cronus said it would hire about 2,000 construction workers and 150 permanent employees, making it one of the largest local employers. At least 800,000 Americans in the U.S. already live within a mile of fertilizer storage sites that house potentially explosive ammonium nitrate. The plant in West housed 2,400 tons of the chemical.

Experts say it's the perfect time to bring fertilizer production back to the U.S., AP reports. Proposed plant sites are in Indiana, Iowa, Illinois and North Dakota, while existing factories in Iowa, Louisiana and Oklahoma could be expanded. Most of the proposed sites are near chemical facilities, "which were drawn by the same rail lines and other industrial infrastructure that are attractive to the fertilizer industry." (Read more)

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