News about the proposed Shell ethane cracker in Beaver County: the Clean Air Council and the Environmental Integrity Project are appealing the permit given by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. Why? Because, they say, the permit isn’t protective enough, and is violation of the federal Clean Air Act.
The ethane cracker would be in Monaca, which already is dealing with poor air quality that doesn’t meet federal standards. The new cracker would be a major point source for pollution.
In case you were curious, here’s ethane cracker 101: The facility will take a chemical called ethane, which is a component of one type of natural gas that comes from fracking, and convert it into polyethylene through a couple of chemical reactions that take the gas and eventually convert it into long chains of a similar repeating structure. Polyethylene is used in a lot of industrial processes, including making plastic that goes into everything from grocery bags to test tubes.
For ethane cracker 102, click here.
Here’s the news release:
FOR IMMEDIATE RELEASE:
August 4, 2015
Clean Air Council and Environmental Integrity Project Challenge PA Department of Environmental Protection’s Approval of Shell Ethane Cracker Permit
The Council and Environmental Integrity Project’s appeal of the permit follows their filing of comments recommending stronger pollution controls and air pollution monitoring. The DEP’s approval of Shell’s permit does not conform with the Clean Air Act.
Philadelphia, PA – Yesterday the Clean Air Council and the Environmental Integrity Project appealed a state permit for a proposed petrochemical plant northwest of Pittsburgh that would allow the construction of a major source of air pollution in an area that already exceeds federal air quality standards set to protect human health.
The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) in June approved of a plan by Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC for a new petrochemical facility called an “ethane cracker” in Monaca, Beaver County, PA, that would process ethane from Marcellus Shale natural gas to produce polyethylene for plastic products.
The environmental groups are appealing the permit to the Pennsylvania Environmental Hearing Board because DEP did not comply with the minimum requirements of the federal Clean Air Act and Pennsylvania’s State Implementation Plan.
“Shell’s proposed air pollution controls for the facility are inadequate and do not provide the residents of Beaver County with the most protective pollution technology controls, which have been implemented at similar Shell facilities and other petrochemical plants in other parts of the country,” said Joseph Otis Minott, Esq. Chief Counsel, Executive Director of the Clean Air Council.
”Ozone levels in Beaver County already exceed levels that are safe for human health, causing excess risk of asthma and other serious respiratory diseases. Shell must monitor and control the facility’s emissions of volatile organic compounds, an ozone precursor, as much as possible to comply with the Clean Air Act and to protect the health of the surrounding communities,” said Sparsh Khandeshi, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project.
The facility will be a major source of air pollution in Beaver County, an area that is currently designated as nonattainment for ozone and PM2.5 National Ambient Air Quality Standards. The groups argue that DEP has not required Shell to install equipment, such as fence-line monitoring, that would detect leaks and help achieve and ensure the lowest achievable emission rate.
The lawsuit also challenges Shell’s representation of the amount of volatile organic compounds that will be released from flaring. Without these needed controls, the groups believe that residents and communities in the Beaver County area would be harmed by the operation of the Shell Petrochemical Facility.
Clean Air Council is a member-supported, non-profit environmental organization dedicated to protecting everyone’s right to breathe clean air. The Council works through public education, community advocacy, and government oversight to ensure enforcement of environmental laws.
The Environmental Integrity Project is nonpartisan, nonprofit organization based in Washington, D.C., dedicated to advocating for more effective enforcement of environmental laws. EIP has three goals: (1) to provide objective analyses of how the failure to enforce or implement environmental laws increases pollution and affects public health; (2) to hold federal and state agencies, as well as individual corporations, accountable for failing to enforce or comply with environmental laws; and (3) to help local communities obtain the protection of environmental laws.