Shell Chemical has been fined almost $10 million by the state of Pennsylvania for excessive emissions at the firm's newly opened plastics and petrochemicals complex near Pittsburgh.
In a May 24 news release, officials with the administration of Gov. Josh Shapiro and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) said they had entered into a consent order and agreement (COA) with Shell Chemicals Appalachia LLC. In the COA, Shell formally acknowledged that the firm exceeded total emission limitations for air contaminants, agreed to make repairs to reduce future violations and agreed to pay nearly $10 million to DEP and the local community.
Shell officials could not be reached for comment. Under the COA, Shell will pay a civil penalty of almost $5 million, with 25 percent of that amount directed to local communities. The firm will spend another $5 million for environmental projects to benefit the local communities.
In total, communities in Western Pennsylvania will directly receive $6.2 million for projects to benefit the environment, heath, and quality of life near the facility. Shell will also pay additional monthly civil penalties for the rest of 2023 for any further violations.
According to the release, Shell was set to restart operations at the site on May 24. The firm on March 25 had suspended polyethylene resin and ethylene monomer production to make repairs and perform maintenance.
The DEP has cited the Shell site with 14 emissions violations since July 2022. Twelve of those violations were related to air quality, with the other two connected to clean water. The site had been cited four times for similar violations between 2017 and mid-2022.
Most recently, the site on April 17 was cited by PDEP for odor emissions caused by hydrocarbons in biotreaters at the site's wastewater treatment plant. According to a DEP filing, Shell reported that the cause of the odors was a valve left open between the wastewater plant and a set of liquid hydrocarbon-containing drums. This opening caused hydrocarbons from the drums to be pumped to the wastewater plant.
The COA requires Shell to obtain approvals to repair its enclosed ground flares, requires an engineering evaluation on pollution controls and requires Shell to get approvals to install any additional controls. Shell will also continue to report emissions from the facility on a monthly basis.