New Movement on the Aither Chemicals Cracker Plant in WV?

A month and a half ago it seemed imminent that Aither Chemicals would announce they would build a new ethane cracker plant at the Bayer CropScience plant site at Institute Industrial Park, located in Kanawha County, near Charleston, WV (see this MDN story). Bayer CropScience, owner of the site, and MarkWest Energy, a huge pipeline company, were named as potential partners in the deal. But the expected announcement never came, and all has been silent since.

An article in the Charleston Daily Mail caught MDN’s eye, an article that says the local city of Nitro, WV have filed a petition with Kanawha County to annex 44 properties surrounding the Bayer CropScience plant. The properties in that area of the county are unincorporated—no official town or city municipal government control—and if Nitro annexes the property surrounding the plant, it prevents any other communities from trying to annex the plant itself at some future date.

What does it all mean? It’s an attempt to remove a potential concern for anyone who sets up shop on the Bayer site—like Aither. You don’t want to invest hundreds of millions of dollars to build an ethane cracker plant and have a nearby municipality suddenly annex the site and slap taxes and fees on you. So the Nitro proposal is meant to prevent that from happening. And perhaps that is one reason why the announcement from Aither has not yet been made.

Nitro officials officially submitted a petition to annex a ribbon of land around the Bayer Crop Science Plant to the Kanawha County Commission on Wednesday.

The city submitted a petition to annex 44 parcels of land around the plant, but not the plant itself, Nitro Mayor Rusty Casto said.

Nitro Council members are calling it an Industrial Free Enterprise Zone. If the city annexes the ribbon of land around the plant, then other communities cannot annex the plant itself, Casto said.

"And it’s going to help this area because whoever puts in a cracker plant won’t have to worry about being annexed by any community around them," he said.

Casto said the annexation was an attempt to help stimulate the economy and create jobs in the area because companies looking to invest in an ethane cracker plant would not want to place one in a city where they could pay various taxes and fees.*

*Charleston Daily Mail (May 3, 2012) – Nitro files petition to annex strip of land near Bayer plant