Environmental group files federal lawsuit against Shell, claims Beaver plant pollutes air

An environmental group filed a federal lawsuit against Shell, claiming its plant in Beaver County repeatedly violates air pollution limits.

The Environmental Integrity Project and Clean Air Council called for strict penalties and for Shell Polymers Monaca plant in Beaver County to halt what it calls the illegal release of smog-forming pollutants.

“Shell received $1.6 billion in taxpayer subsidies from the state to build this plant. The very least this international corporation can do is to follow the law and not make Pennsylvania taxpayers breathe in their illegal pollution,” said Sarah Kula, attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, in a news release.

In April, the Environmental Integrity Project and Clean Air Council sent Shell a letter with the intent to sue over state Department of Environmental Protection violations.

A Shell spokesperson sent the following statement to Channel 11 at the time:

“We are in the process of reviewing the notice. Shell Polymers remains committed to safe, environmentally responsible operations, and will abide by all applicable laws and regulations,” said Curtis Smith with Shell.

Shell provided the following statement on the lawsuit:

“Shell remains committed to the health and well-being of its employees and the surrounding community. The Shell Polymers Monaca Plant is temporarily shut down and we are continuing to work rapidly to improve facilities and operations to address these issues in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection.

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.

Earlier this year, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection issued Shell Polymers Monaca a Notice of Violation (NOV) due to the plant exceeding volatile organic compound (VOC) emissions outlined in Shell’s Air Plan Approval.

Several factors contributed to additional flaring during startup, all related to the complexities of commissioning 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.

We will continue to report out and comply with all regulations while also applying lessons learned and best practices to ensure our operations have no negative impact on people or the environment.

We recently identified an issue with the site flaring system. Because flaring is considered a critical safety device when it comes to eliminating unwanted hydrocarbon gases, production has been temporarily shut down and will remain offline until the flaring system is operational. While that work is underway, we will continue to report out and comply with all regulations while applying lessons learned and best practices. "

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