Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dep, Shell Share Air Quality Plans for Beaver County Cracker Plant

Newspaper article Pittsburgh Post-Gazette (Pittsburgh, PA)

Dep, Shell Share Air Quality Plans for Beaver County Cracker Plant

Article excerpt

MONACA - The public got its first look on Tuesday at Royal Dutch Shell's proposed multibillion-dollar chemical plant in Beaver County when state environmental officials held a two-hour meeting here about the company's air quality permit.

Shell representatives and officials from the state Department of Environmental Protection were on hand at Central Valley High School to field questions and provide more detail on how the plant, which would produce polyethylene pellets for the plastics industry, would affect the community.

Most in the school's auditorium seemed to warm to the idea of bringing in the plant, citing the economic boost such a project would bring to an area no stranger to industrial development. The audience applauded those who spoke of the benefits.

Erica Loftus, president of the Beaver County Chamber of Commerce, said she believed Shell would be a good neighbor and take environmental concerns seriously.

"Beaver County has a rich history of hosting a rich manufacturing industry," Ms. Loftus said. "We've done this before, we can do this again. We are ready."

During the first hour, company and state officials took questions on the permitting process. They then invited official testimony from more than two dozen people who had signed up beforehand.

The proposed complex would be located on the site formerly occupied by a zinc smelter owned by Horsehead Corp. in Potter Township, a facility that closed in 2011.

The plant, which would chemically "crack" ethane and produce polyethylene pellets for use in the plastic industry, would be the first of its kind in this area of the country.

Ethane, a byproduct of natural gas drilling, has become more abundant as production in the Marcellus and Utica shale plays in northern Appalachia has increased. The liquid currently must be sent to plants near the Gulf of Mexico for processing.

Shell plans to feed the plant with ethane by pipeline, said Randy Armstrong, Shell's director of environmental issues. It will take the product out on rail lines, he said, having chosen the site partly for its access to rail facilities.

The company said it had not settled on its path or where the ethane would come from. …

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