HOPEWELL TOWNSHIP (KDKA) — It would be the biggest economic development project in the Ohio Valley in more than a generation – a $2.5 billion petrochemical plant called a cracker.
On Wednesday, hundreds showed up at the Shadow Lakes Club in Hopewell Township for an open house held by Shell Oil to explain the project and get input from the community.
Shell calls the response overwhelmingly positive.
“We didn’t know what to expect when we held the open house today, but I think we’ve all been impressed by the turnout and the show of support from the community,” said Ian Carlson, of Shell Chemicals.
Those KDKA spoke with say they do want the cracker to come, but they did voice a few concerns. One, that jobs stay local.
Tee Petillo, of Aliquippa, said other industrial firms have not fulfilled on that promise.
“They were going to create jobs and three or four years down the road they were down-scaled, and a lot of locals did not have jobs,” said Petillo. “And I would not like to see that happen this time.”
The other concern is the impact on the air and water.
“Obviously, the environment is an important issue, and it appears they’re well prepared in addressing that,” said Mike Deelo, a Beaver County resident. “We’re quite satisfied that this will be a positive economic impact on our community.”
Shell is still developing the site in Potter Township, presently occupied by Horsehead Zinc.
The oil giant is still assessing the development costs and the economic viability of the cracker before making a decision on whether to build it. But believes it has community support.
“I think the overriding sense we get from the community is a lot of enthusiasm, excitement and support for the project,” said Carlson. “They all understand that if the project is built, it will mean a lot of jobs for local community, jobs for the local economy and the redevelopment of an existing industrial site.”