$5M in environmental project funding up for grabs in Beaver County

BEAVER COUNTY, Pa. — Millions of dollars earmarked for environmental projects in Beaver County are up for grabs.

The money comes from part of a settlement with Shell over violations from its Monaca Cracker Plant.

The $5 million fund is one of the biggest of its kind in state history, according to the Department of Environmental Protection.

“This is not a charity project. This is not a feel-good fund,” Daniel Rossi-Keen said. He’s a member of the board that will decide where the money goes. “We would rather have good health from the get-go and not deal with these underlying consequences.”

Applications to spend the money are now open.

“We’re really looking for projects that address the future health of the region that attempt, in clear and demonstrative ways, to push back against pollution that has happened over the last year of Shell’s operation. It’s called a mitigation fund,” Rossi-Keen said.

Certain stipulations must be met to apply for the money. There will also be a series of community meetings.

You can find more information, including deadlines, here.

Channel 11 reached out to Shell for a statement:

“The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PaDEP) issued Shell Polymers Monaca a consent order containing a monetary fine ($4,935,023) for violating Shell’s air quality permit as well as a pledge to contribute an additional $5 MM to the local community for environmentally beneficial project(s) on May 24, 2023. Shell is committed to complying with all county, state and federal regulations. We have worked in conjunction with the PaDEP to fix plant issues that led to prior violations.

After making significant improvements that will help us operate more effectively and safely, the SPM plant has resumed production. We’ve learned from previous issues and pledge to be the safe environmental steward, good neighbor, and business partner this region wants and deserves.

“Shell remains committed to the health and well-being of its employees and the surrounding community.

“We are also committed to complying with all county, state and federal regulations. And when there is an issue, we work to fix it. We learn from those issues and work to improve so that we can be the good environmental steward, neighbor, and business partner this region wants and deserves.

“Several factors contributed to additional flaring during startup, which resulted in the overage of emissions. All of those factors are related to the complexities of commissioning a brand-new systems and equipment that make up one of the largest construction projects in the country.

“Though flaring acts as a contingency to combust gases before they enter the atmosphere, no violation is acceptable.

“By design, Shell has no determination whatsoever as to how the $5 million dollar community fund will be allocated, or which projects or proposals are funded. However, we will continue to put millions of dollars into the community through our voluntary Social Investment funds that benefit non-profit organizations, the environment, workforce development, and some of the most underserved members of our community. It is an honor and a privilege to be in the position to help our neighbours and the environment with these funds.”

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