While Shell is scheduled to open an ethane cracker this year in Beaver County, north of Pittsburgh, a possible second cracker in the region faces an uncertain future.
These industrial plants use ethane from unconventional gas drilling in the region to create plastics.
The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency just renewed the wastewater discharge permit for PTTGC America, of Thailand, for its proposed facility in Belmont County, Ohio, about 70 miles southwest of Pittsburgh. It would produce 1.5 million tons of plastics per year.
Citizen comments on the permit mention that the River provides drinking water for roughly 5 million people and that there are concerns about the types of chemicals allowed to be discharged by the plant.
Ohio EPA said its standards are protective of drinking water and human health and that there is a water quality monitoring program on the Ohio River.
PTTGC is also in the process of drafting an application for an air permit from Ohio EPA to modify one that expired on February 24.
Still, it is uncertain if the company will build the plant.
“The real movement will come once the company identifies a partner, which hasn’t happened yet. That’s been the focus since the pandemic,” said spokesperson Dan Williamson.