West Terre Haute plant promises high paying jobs, savings for farmers

Those behind plans for a new ammonia plant in West Terre Haute are promising high paying jobs and savings for Wabash Valley growers.

Posted: May 23, 2019 5:58 PM
Updated: May 23, 2019 6:34 PM

WEST TERRE HAUTE, Ind. (WTHI) - Those behind plans for a new ammonia plant in West Terre Haute are promising high paying jobs and savings for Wabash Valley growers.

News 10 has told you about the project to transform the former Wabash River Gasification site into an ammonia production plant.

Wabash Valley Resources is developing the former power plant. It will not just produce anhydrous ammonia for local growers but also roughly 125 high paying jobs. The company plans to break ground within the next year.

Farmers use anhydrous ammonia on their fields but those in the Corn Belt often pay much more for the fertilizer than farmers elsewhere.

Daniel Williams with Wabash Valley Resources says, "We're going to bring ammonia to market for a significantly lower cost than it is currently imported from overseas, brought up through barges, pipelines, and trucks. Since we're essentially in the fields where it’s going to be used, we're eliminating the very expensive distribution cost for ammonia."

This will be the first anhydrous ammonia plant in the Hoosier state producing four to five hundred thousand tons each year.

It could be two to three years before construction is complete, but when it is, 125 full-time employees will be needed to run the plant.

Williams says, "Those are going to be some of the best-paid employees in town simply because of the nature of the facility. They need to be highly trained and then therefore highly paid employees. We're looking at kind of a minimum average salary of $75,000 a year."

Williams says they plan to hire early and train. The plant will need chemical, mechanical and electrical engineers as well as people with industry experience.

State Senator Jon Ford (R-Terre Haute) says, "This is something I feel strongly will provide economic opportunity for people to get great jobs, maybe keep some of our engineering folks that go to school here in town, some of our marketing and accounting folks. And that's the goal for me is to help to create jobs that our college students can stay in town."

Williams says the plant will have an even broader economic impact when you consider the roughly twenty million dollars a year the company expects to spend on local vendors. Five hundred to a thousand workers will also be needed during the construction phase of the project.

Wabash Valley Resources is also planning for another unique addition: a carbon capture and sequestration facility.

According to the company, this means Co2, or carbon dioxide, will be captured as it is emitted from the production of ammonia. Instead of the Co2 being released into the atmosphere, it will be compressed and injected deep underground.

Those behind the plan say it is better for the environment. The company will have to prove it has a plan to do this all safely.

Williams says, "During the sequestration of the Co2 we would be actually required to do a lot of monitoring specifically to ensure that the Co2 goes where it’s supposed to and stays there. We would cease sequestration activities if there was an issue with the wellhead."

Ford says, "That's two miles underground. It doesn't bubble back up. It doesn't come back up into the water system. It is far below drinking water and far below coal seams."

State Senator Ford helped to pass a bill allowing Wabash Valley Resources to move forward and apply for a permit with the federal Environmental Protection Agency. It could still take up to a year for the EPA to approve the plan.

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