"I shudder to think what the economy of this valley would be like it we should ever lose Hercules Inc."
So wrote Fred S. Ball, president of the Salt Lake Area Chamber of Commerce, to Salt Lake County Commission Chairman Bart Barker, in light of the recent decision by the Salt Lake County Planning and Zoning Commission not to let Hercules expand its operation because of fears about what would happen in the event of an explosion."I am very concerned that a signal has been sent to corporate headquarters in Wilmington, Del., that Hercules is not appreciated in this valley. I think that is far from the truth. Most of our citizens recognize the absolute necessity of Hercules remaining here and having the option to grow and hopefully, hire more people," Ball wrote.
Hercules wants to expand its area so it can build Titan IV and Delta II missiles.
Ball said he believes the zoning commission's vote was based on fear because of the recent explosion in Henderson, Nev. Had the explosion not occurred, Ball said, he is confident the vote by the planning commission would have been different.
"The occurrence in Henderson has no bearing on what Hercules is proposing for the west Salt Lake Valley. Experts have testified with a great deal of assurance that the Nevada occurrence should not even have been considered because it is so different from what Hercules does in their Utah facility," Ball said.
"I can assure you that neighboring states would welcome the move of Hercules into their area. It is not a necessity for Hercules to remain in Utah," he said.
When the vote was taken earlier this week, Hercules officials said they would appeal the decision to the Salt Lake County Commission and hope for a quick decision because they wanted to begin construction on a $145 million expansion program on June 1.
If commissioners reject the expansion, Jack DeMann, Hercules public affairs director, said the company will lose $2 billion in the next 10 years and the local economy could suffer five times that amount.