After 15 months on December 20th, Shell has received the permits needed for its Falcon Ethane Pipeline to feed the new petrochemical plant in Beaver County from the Pennsylvania DEP. “With the state Department of Environmental Protection permits granted Thursday, construction on the line is expected to start next year. The pipeline will feed as much as 107,000 barrels of ethane per day to Shell’s $6 billion cracker plant in Potter Township.” Ethane is a natural gas liquid that is produced from Appalachia’s shale wells. The Shell plant is expected to manufacture plastics with power generated from fracking activities in Appalachia.
The ethane pipeline, with approximately 45 miles in Pennsylvania, will have 2 legs feeding in the plant. One leg will originate in Chartiers Township, Washington County and travel through Allegheny and Beaver counties. The second will originate in Cadiz, Ohio and travel through Ohio and West Virginia before ending at the plant.
One of the largest points of concern echoed from residents is around the pipeline construction is its proximity to the Ambridge Reservoir that provides drinking water. “In its permit applications, Shell proposed to deepen the horizontal directional drill (HDD) below the raw water line, have a crew on standby in the event of a break in the raw water line, have additional pre-stressed concrete pipe repair joints at the job site, and use other construction techniques to minimize impacts to the raw water line during construction.” Over 1500 comments were given to the DEP as the analysis was completed. The pipeline also will route through wetland areas in Beaver County.
Permits are still pending in West Virginia and Ohio, but work is expected to begin in 2019. The oversight of the multi-state pipeline falls under the federal Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration.