Pittsburgh-area officials want more information before approving a conditional use permit for a massive plastics and petrochemicals plant that Shell Chemical plans to build in the region.
Potter Township supervisors have asked officials with Houston-based Shell to provide more data on pipelines that will be used at the proposed site, according to a Dec. 15 article in the Pittsburgh Post-Gazette.
A hearing on the topic was held by the township on Dec. 13-14. Township supervisors also have given Shell and the Clean Air Council — an environmental non-profit group — until Jan. 6 to provide reasons why the permit should or should not be approved, the article added.
An additional public meeting and hearing on the topic were scheduled for Dec. 15 by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. The DEP needs to issue a pollution discharge elimination permit for the project to proceed.
Shell, according to the article, wants to amend a permit previously issued to Horsehead Corp., which ran a zinc processing business there before selling the property to Shell. Shell also needs to receive an air permit for the project.
Shell officials could not be reached for comment. The firm green-lighted the project in June, with officials saying that construction would start in late 2017, with production beginning “early in the next decade.” When complete, the site is expected to have annual capacity of 3.5 billion pounds of polyethylene resin.
The project will be the first U.S. petrochemicals project built outside of the Gulf Coast of Texas and Louisiana in several decades. It will take advantage of low-priced natural gas feedstock that's been developed in the Appalachia region in recent years. Natural gas for the project will come from the Marcellus and Utica shale regions.
The complex will be located on the Ohio River near Monaca, Pa., about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh. It's expected to bring up to 6,000 construction workers involved in building the new facility, and an expected 600 permanent employees when completed.
Shell first announced that it was considering the project in early 2012. Several other materials firms and partnerships had considered plans for plastics and petrochemicals works in the Appalachia region, but Shell's is the only one officially moving forward. PTT Global Chemical of Thailand and Marubeni Corp. of Japan still are reviewing plans for a complex making PE and ethylene in Belmont County, Ohio, but no final decisions have been made.