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Fertilizer industry grows despite safety concerns

Fertilizer Explosion
Posted at 8:37 AM, Jul 18, 2013
and last updated 2013-07-18 08:37:00-04

TUSCOLA, Ill. (AP) — The fertilizer industry is going on a building spree, proposing new factories across the nation, many of them in small towns that are desperate for jobs.

The expansion plans result from booming demand for corn and newly abundant supplies of natural gas, a major component in fertilizer production.

Most of the plants would go in rural towns where economic development isn't easy. For instance, Cronus Chemicals has proposed a $1.2 billion plant for Tuscola, an Illinois community of 4,500 people about 160 miles south of Chicago.

But the wave of projects comes with concerns. An explosion at a Texas fertilizer plant in April killed 15 people in the community of West, highlighting the dangers of such facilities and how loosely they're regulated.