An agreement’s been reached to allow the construction of a controversial fertilizer plant in southeastern Iowa to go forward while experts look for Native American artifacts. The agreement with the Army Corps of Engineers requires the plant’s parent company, Orascom , to pay for archeologists to monitor the site and excavate two areas of interest as construction continues.
State Archeologist John Doershuk says the larger of the two areas was either a village occupied for a short period of time, or a seasonal camp. “But we know there’s lots of different kinds of prehistoric pottery, there’s fire cracked walk from herbs, there’s fire pits, there’s probably going to be evidence of shelters of some kind, we don’t know yet how big our what size,” Doershuk says.
Construction will get underway, but if human remains are found at either site, construction will need to be stopped immediately as state and tribal officials decide how to proceed. The state promised Orascom $200-million in tax breaks to build the $1.3-billion plant.
Those incentives did not sit well with some legislators, when it was revealed that Orascom was in the middle of a federal lawsuit.