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No PetroChemical Build-Out

Marcellus Protest is one of many grassroots organizations who (along with both big and little greens) are working to prevent the threatened petrochemical build-out in the Ohio River Valley. This page is a place for collecting information and resources to share with the community.

The image on our home-page represents four of the most significant threats from the petrochemical build-out:

  • Fracking: One of the prime motivators behind the build-out is the need for drilling companies to find buyers for their gas. If the petrochemical industry comes to the Ohio Valley, fracking in our region will proliferate.
  • Chemicals: Beginning with - but not limited to - ethylene "cracker" plants, such as the Shell Appalachia facility which is under construction in Monaca. The "cracker" emits enough greenhouse gases and other pollutants to undo whatever progress is being made to improve our air quality and reduce our contribution to climate change.
  • Pipelines: Shell's "Falcon" pipeline is crossing Ohio, West Virginia and Pennsylvania to carry ethane from separation plants to the "cracker." Future chemical facilities will require their own pipelines, all with the threats to safety, air quality and drinking water supplies.
  • Plastics: Ocean life is dying in the debris of disposable bottles and other plastic trash. Microscopic shards of plastic are found in all of our own fresh water supplies, in our bloodstreams, and even in the flesh of our children. Yet the primary "value" of the petrochemical industry's business case is to produce yet more plastic.

For a quick overview of the dangers we face, refer to "Appalachian Storage Hub: A Petrochem Horror." [The 'Appalachian Storage Hub' is the industry's umbrella term for a grandiose scheme of pipelines and underground caverns filled with ethane, intended for storing and selling feedstock to the petrochemical processors.]

  1. Governance: Steve Horn's DeSmog Blog carries an article which lays out the interlocking interests, and potential double-dealing, of the West Virginia public officials and university faculty who solicited an $80+ billion "Memo of Understanding" from a Chinese investor. (That MOU has not been made public, although the state's governor and other officials are making hay over the announcement.)
  2. Plastic: A new study of ocean pollution, reported in EcoWatch finds that plastic continues to accumulate, even in remote areas. All through the aquatic food-chain, plastic is found in birds as well as water-dwelling creatures.
  3. Pipelines: See FracTracker's in-depth report "The Falcon Public EIA Project", an independent Environmental Impact Analysis for Shell's proposed "Falcon" pipeline. Quoting FracTracker:
    The Falcon Public Environmental Impact Assessment (EIA) Project is meant to expand public dialogue about what should be included in EIAs and how they should apply to pipeline projects. The project also serves as a model for how data transparency ought to be done by regulatory agencies when engaging the public.The maps and articles [in the EIA] raise a number of question: should we route a pipeline through the headwaters of a reservoir that provides drinking water to 30,000 people? Is it safe to locate pipelines in actively mined areas? Should the Beaver County Conservation District allow pipelines on public-owned property? Is the Falcon pipeline necessary at all? These are the kinds of discussions we hope emerge from the Falcon Public EIA Project.
  4. "Cracker" plant: Another FracTracker report "A Formula for Disaster: Calculating Risk at the Ethane Cracker", a quantitative exploration of the hazards associated with the Shell Appalachia plant. Quoting FracTracker:
    As those who stand to be affected by — or make crucial decisions on — the ethane cracker contemplate the potential risks and promised rewards of this massive project, they should also carefully consider what could go wrong. In addition to the serious environmental and human health effects, which might only reveal themselves over time, what acute events, emergencies, and disasters could potentially occur? What is the disaster risk, the potential for “losses, in lives, health status, livelihoods, assets and services,” of this massive petrochemical facility? ... Applied to Shell’s self-described “world-scale petrochemical project,” it is challenging to quantify the first of these inputs, hazard. Not only would a facility of this size be unprecedented in this region, but Shell has closely controlled the “public” information on the proposed facility.Shell has done little to define the potential for emergencies at the proposed Beaver County ethane cracker plant, at least in materials made available to the public. Shell has revealed that general hazards include “fire, explosion, traffic accidents, leaks and equipment failures.”
  5. Public Meeting: See the March 22, 2018, entry on our Calendar page.
  6. Pipelines: The Pennsylvania DEP has announced public hearings on Shell's "Falcon" pipeline, and is extending its comment period through April 17, 2018. Locations and times for hearings are yet to be decided.
  7. Plastic: A February 16 article by TruthOut summarizes the "value chain" of fracking-to-plastics. Titled, "We Are Drowning in Plastic, and Fracking Companies Are Profiting," the report ties together Ineos (the company which ships natural gas liquids [NGLs] from North America to the UK and Europe), Sunoco (the builder of the Mariner East 2 pipeline) and the floating islands of plastic garbage in all the world's oceans.