Beaver County

Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County to resume operations after $10 million fine

MONACA, Pa. — Operations will resume tomorrow at the Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County after they were hit with a $10 million fine.

PREVIOUS COVERAGE >>> Shell Cracker Plant in Beaver County will be in ‘shutdown mode’ for weeks to come

Governor Shapiro and the PA Department of Environmental Protection entered into a consent order and agreement with Shell Chemicals Appalachia, LLC, in which Shell formally acknowledged that the company exceeded total emission limitations for air contaminants, agreed to make repairs to reduce future exceedances, and agreed to pay nearly $10 million to DEP and the local community.

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Shell voluntarily closed operations on March 25 in order to work on repairs.

A Shell spokesperson told Channel 11, “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 is resuming 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.”

Dr. Clifford Lau, a Duquesne Chemistry professor and member of the Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community Group, says he would like to see Shell do more specifically for the residents who live close to the plant.

“They’ve already been exposed to toxic chemicals, you can’t use the money to unexpose them,” Lau said.

He feels the ten million dollars isn’t enough.

“A drop in the bucket for a multi-national company like Shell.  What I’m more concerned that Shell needs to operate this plant safely and not expose residents to VOCs.”

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Shell will pay a civil penalty of $4,935,023, with 25 percent of it directed to local communities.  Plus, Shell will give $5 million for environmental projects to benefit 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 of the community near the facility because of the COA.

Here’s what we know led to the fines: Shell exceeded its rolling 12-month total emission limitations for volatile organic compounds (VOC) beginning in October 2022 through April 2023, carbon monoxide (CO) from February through March 2023, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) from December 2022 through April 2023, and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) from December 2022 through April 2023. Shell attributed some of these emissions to malfunctions and anticipates additional exceedances of its 12-month total emission limitations during the commissioning phase into autumn 2023, but not during normal operations.

In addition to emission limit violations, DEP cited Shell for flaring violations from June 2022 through April 2023, malodor violations from its wastewater treatment plant in January, February, and April 2023, and other violations from July 2022 through April 2023.

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