Energy. Environment. Economy.

Shell’s proposed ethane cracker could be a big emitter

Shell construction manager Ken Conly talks about the ethane cracker project at a public meeting.

Marie Cusick/StateImpact Pennsylvania

Shell construction manager Ken Conly talks about the ethane cracker project at a public meeting.

The Pittsburgh Tribune-Review reports Shell’s proposed ethane cracker in western Pennsylvania could be a significant new source of air pollution.

The company has not yet committed to building the multi-billion dollar petrochemical plant, but has applied to the Department of Environmental Protection for an air quality permit for the site in Monaca, Beaver County.

More from the Pittsburgh Tribune-Review:

Potential emissions of carbon monoxide, fine particulates and carbon dioxide would put the multibillion-dollar ethane cracker among the top 10 in those categories, though observers note the plant’s emissions could be lower than the estimates.

If Shell decides to build the complex in Center and Potter, it must meet heightened regulatory requirements and buy pollution credits from companies that closed plants or reduced air emissions. Those credits would offset emissions from the plant.

Nevertheless, Shell said it would use the latest technology and newest equipment to reduce pollution and its overall impact. That includes burning natural gas to produce its own electricity and steam.

“We are designing this to minimize emissions,” said company spokeswoman Kimberly Windon. “That’s using a combination of design, engineering and operational controls, and focusing on energy efficiency.”

Shell announced it had selected Beaver County in March 2012 as the possible site for a plant to process ethane for use in manufacturing. Ethane is a natural gas liquid that is being produced in abundance from the Marcellus Shale in western Pennsylvania.

The company held public events in April to answer questions from the public. Earlier this month, the chemical industry news service ICIS reported Shell’s executive vice president Graham van’t Hoff said the company has also “solidified” where the ethane will come from.


  • env121

    Shell NO!!!

  • BobSchmetzer

    I spoke to the two environmental engineers that were present. The plans to build are the same as TEXAS. I ask if it was flat and windy at the TEXAS plant. YES. I said you are looking at the Ohio river valley where air inversions occur. The discharges will hold in the valley towns and not be released into the atmosphere. I asked them to look up Dormont Pa and see how many people were killed when it happened there. The surrounding hills are full of mercury. Gardens are full of lead and other heavy metals that have ended up in tomatoes.

  • Celia Janosik

    As I have stated many times, if you hope to have a family or have a family now, run. The cracker plant, along with all the subsidiary industries, along with all the fracked wells needed, along with compressor stations, processing plants and pipelines, this area will be one huge chemical, cancer alley, worse than Louisiana and parts of Texas. Is this what you want for your children? We deserve better, much better. Renewable energy NOW.

  • kenneth weir

    Tommy Corporate and his political pigs are coming to get their feast and the people are going to pay. SOCIALIZING THE COSTS AND PRIVITZING THE PROFITS. History is always repeating itself.

  • Jack Wolf

    Has anyone else noticed all the dying trees in western PA? You can clearly see it as you drive the turnpike or parkway or really any road in WPA. It’s not just one species, but many and in different landscape positions.

    • PA86

      Yeah I’ve seen it. I drive 55 miles on 376 several times per week and I just noticed a lot of dead trees down around the Ohio river. In Lawrence County where I live my blue spruce are suddenly dying and its pretty pervasive around the area, but no can tell me why as yet.

      • Jack Wolf

        From what I gather, some of it is the emerald ash beetle, some of it is the gypsy moth, some of it is the woolly adelgid, some of it is the thousand tank disease, some of it is the tent caterpillar, some of it is sudden oak death, some of it is the butternut canker… the list is long. Not sure what’s hitting the blue spruce – must be a new one! I’ve been here since I was a kid, and lived and worked in the country. I remember times when a single species would be hit, but never all together. Something else is the causative force allowing all these pests to thrive at once, and I suspect it’s climate change from greenhouse gas emissions. I think PA’s forests will soon be kindling. Thanks for keeping your eyes open. Keep them open, things are going to get really funky now.

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