Shell Gets Important Wastewater Permit for Beaver Cracker Plant

It was more than six months in the making, but finally the Pennsylvania Dept. of Environmental Protection has granted Shell a permit that allows the facility to discharge wastewater and storm water into the Ohio River. Which may sound like Shell just got a permit to pollute the Ohio River–but that’s not what is happening. Shell is building their mighty $6 billion ethane cracker on a site formerly used as a zinc smelter. The old Horsehead Corp. plant held a permit that allowed the plant to discharge wastewater with some total dissolved solids (TDS) into the Ohio. When Shell bought the site, they also inherited the Horsehead permit for wastewater discharge. Shell filed a plan back in December with the PA DEP to modify that permit for the forthcoming cracker plant (see Shell Cracker Wastewater Discharge Becomes an Issue). So-called environmentalists jumped up and down like a rattlesnake had entered the room–but their showboating had no effect. After six months of review, the DEP has determined Shell’s wastewater request is OK by them, and will not unduly harm the environment. So last Friday, the DEP issued a National Pollution Discharge Elimination System (NPDES) permit amendment for the cracker plant. This is an important step, without which construction on the plant would not begin…

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