Local and state leaders split on proposed Posey Co. fertilizer p - Tri-State News, Weather & Sports

Local and state leaders split on proposed Posey Co. fertilizer plant


For months, 14 News has followed the developments surrounding a proposed fertilizer plant in Posey County, and on Wednesday, opinions over the controversial project are split between local and state leaders.

Local leaders and a company representative say the project is moving forward, but the governor's office has not changed its position on the issue and won't, until it can be confirmed that the company behind the fertilizer plant has made some major changes.

On Wednesday, those in the thick of the this whole ordeal are really hoping the two sides can come to an agreement.

"With projects of this magnitude, you can't just sort of stop it. You have to be in a position, so things like acquisition of land, air permitting, all of that was proceeding," Greg Wathen said.

Wathen of the Economic Development Coalition says things haven't stopped on the Midwest Fertilizer project. They've just slowed down, mostly because of one major issue. 

Over in Pakistan, the Fatima Group, who owns Midwest Fertilizer, makes fertilizer with something called calcium ammonium nitrate. 

US officials say that part of the fertilizer has been used by terrorists to make IEDs. 

"With Fatima being one of the larger producers of fertilizer in Pakistan, there was sort of that connection if you will. The reality is that Fatima was never involved in any of these type of things. People can take a product and misuse it," Wathen said.

Wathen says there are two issues the company's agreed to address: to better control who gets a hold of its fertilizer and to make the product less explosive. 

He thinks both of those have been done.

"So what we're waiting on at this point in time is verification of both of those, through the Department of Defense. We feel very comfortable, as does the company, that all these things will be behind us very shortly," Wathen said. 

The mayor in Mt. Vernon hopes for a thumbs up on the project as well. After all, they've upgraded their water and sewer plants in anticipation.

"We've been working on it just to be in a good position when something like this does come up. It would certainly be a big shot in the arm," Mayor John Tucker said.

Big may be an understatement. It's now a $2 billion project. 

We were first to report that Governor Mike Pence has pulled his support for this project, and on Wednesday, his office reaffirmed that position with this statement:

"State support for the project remains on hold while we assess the situation. While economic development is important, there is nothing more important than the safety and security of our troops."

Meanwhile, the US Adviser for the Fatima Group issued this statement:

"We are committed to making this significant economic development project work in Posey County. This $2 billion investment is good for Indiana and good for Indiana farmers."

If the project does get the green light, 14 News is told construction could begin very, very soon with a lot of activity happening this year.

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