The Environmental Integrity Project and Clean Air Council appeal of a Pennsylvania permit for a Shell Ethane Cracker plant follows their filing of comments recommending stronger pollution controls and air pollution monitoring.
August, 4, 2015 — 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 meant 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,” said Sparsh Khandeshi, an attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project. “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.”
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.
For a copy of the appeal, click here.
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.