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Potter Township gives final approval for Shell cracker plant

By Anya Litvak / Pittsburgh Post-Gazette: 18 Jan 2017

Potter supervisors approved a permit Wednesday for Shell Chemical Appalachia to build a sprawling petrochemical complex within its borders, capping more than a month of tension among people who live near the plant site in Beaver County

The supervisors voted unanimously to approve a conditional use permit for the company during a standing-room-only meeting that saw both supporters and opponents speaking their minds in one-minute increments before the vote.

Countering last week’s supervisors’ hearing at which opponents held signs asking the supervisors to deny the application, this time supporters lined the back of the room with placards that said “Family supporting jobs for Beaver County” and “Environmentally responsible growth.”

The supervisors said they wanted Shell to conduct monthly noise studies, on-demand traffic analyses and occasional lighting studies and said they would consult with the company on those demands.

The approval followed a 10-hour hearing in mid-December at which Shell officials and attorneys went over everything the company had submitted to the township — hundreds of pages of documents. After that, residents and opponents of the plant expressed their concerns about the application, some asking for more documentation and others wanting the whole project scrapped.

The company plans to build an ethane cracker and three polyethylene units that will use a natural gas liquid that is plentiful in the Marcellus and Utica shales to pump out small plastic pellets that serve as the building blocks of plastics manufacturing.

Shell will also build a natural gas power plant, three pipelines — for ethane, natural gas, and nitrogen — a rail yard, and several buildings on the land that was once occupied by a Horsehead zinc smelter.

Construction is scheduled to begin in 2018 and will employ about 6,000 workers at its peak, Shell has said. When operational, the petrochemical complex will have 600 permanent employees.

Anya Litvak: [email protected] or 412-263-1455.

SOURCE

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