Pennsylvania

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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.

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