Air Quality Planning Underway for Shell’s Ethane Cracker Chemical Plant

by Duane Nichols on September 7, 2017

Shell Ethane Cracker in Ohio River Valley PA

Shell, environmental groups reach deal on air monitoring for ethane cracker

Photo: Preliminary Construction for Shell’s Ethane Cracker Underway

From an Article by Marie Cusick, NPR StateImpact Penna., August 28, 2017

Shell Chemical Appalachia has reached a settlement agreement with two environmental groups that had challenged the air permit for its new petrochemical plant being built near Pittsburgh.

The deal follows more than two years of negotiations and requires Shell to do more air quality monitoring, including installing fenceline monitoring, which can quickly detect emission spikes. It also places more stringent requirements on flaring, in order to burn off pollutants.

“We are pleased to have reached this settlement,” Ate Visser, Vice President of the Shell project, said in a statement. “Now our full focus will be on delivering the facility, with its state of the art operations and environmental controls, which will bring jobs and economic benefits to many Western Pennsylvania families for decades to come.”

Attorney Joseph Minott of the Clean Air Council, says the technology will make Shell’s workers and the community safer.

“I think this is a very good model for what communities should insist what all large air pollution sources now have,” he says. “The technology exists, the cost is reasonable, and the level of protection it provides is well worth it. Anyone who lives next to a facility like that will be exposed to elevated levels of hazardous air pollutants.”

Shell’s plant, known as an ethane cracker, breaks up ethane, which is a natural gas liquid from the Marcellus Shale, and turns it into material used to make plastics. It is being built in Potter Township, Beaver County, about 30 miles northwest of Pittsburgh.

“Our appeal of the air permit for the Shell facility sought to address two main pieces the permit was lacking: fenceline monitoring to detect and fix leaks and better requirements to assure the facility’s flares properly control air pollution,” Adam Kron, senior attorney for the Environmental Integrity Project, said in a statement. “This settlement achieves both of these goals, and we believe the health of people living and working near this facility will be better protected as a result.”

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Chemistry Seminar March 6, 2018 at 11:19 pm

Lecture: ‘The Coupling of Reactive Chemistry in the Atmosphere with Global Climate’

Professor Lee Murray, Department of Earth & Environmental Sciences, presents “The Coupling of Reactive Chemistry in the Atmosphere with Global Climate.”

The lecture is part of the Center for Energy and Environment’s Jesse L. Rosenberger Seminar Series, cosponsored by the Department of Chemistry, University of Rochester, NY.

Abstract: The reactive chemistry of the atmosphere has changed substantially since the preindustrial era resulting from human activity and climate change. In turn, climate change has influence atmospheric composition through perturbations of natural processes, leading to complex feedbacks across a range of spatial and temporal scales. Here, I preset some ongoing projects aimed at characterizing the interface between atmospheric chemistry and Earth’s climate system in the past, present and future.

First, I explore the coupling between the primary atmospheric oxidants OH and ozone with the production of reactive nitrogen oxides (NOx) from lightning, and the subsequent impacts on surface air quality and long-term climate.

Second, I explore how uncertainty in reactive nitrogen chemistry and hydrocarbon oxidation mechanisms in the atmosphere contribute to uncertainties in chemistry-climate feedbacks, and ongoing efforts to evaluate these processes in global models through the ongoing NASA Atmospheric Tomography airborne mission.

Lastly, I introduce a pilot monitoring network and inverse modeling framework for methane, the most abundant atmospheric hydrocarbon and potent greenhouse gas, that is presently being installed to aid New York State in assessing and meeting its greenhouse-gas reduction goals.

Wednesday, March 7 at 12:00pm to 1:00pm
Hutchison Hall , Lander Auditorium (140)
Hutchison Rd, Rochester, NY 14620


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