Shell Announces Plans To Build Cracker Plant In Beaver Co.

PITTSBURGH (KDKA) – Shell has announced that they will be building a state-of-the-art cracker facility in Beaver County.

Beaver County commissioners got the good news over the phone at 6 a.m.

After years of cajoling by two governors and plenty of local leaders that cut across all political lines, Shell announced it will build a major petrochemical complex along the Ohio River right off Interstate 376, just 30 miles from downtown Pittsburgh.

Shell said construction will take approximately 18 months, requiring 6,000 construction workers to be hired in the region to build the new facility. After that, some 600 permanent jobs will be located at the plant.

Beaver County residents think the new plant will be great economically for their area.

“I think it’s going to be great for our area,” said Coy Dickey, of Midland. “Of course, bringing more jobs to our area that was so decimated by the steel mill industry. I’m optimistic that it’s going to do very well for us.”

David Domago believes the cracker plant will increase his property value.

“I’m retired and I’m looking to downsize,” he says. “With the cracker plant going in there for sure and so on, it’s going to raise the value so I will get a better price.”

The cracker facility — named after a process to break down or crack certain chemicals — will use low-cost ethane from shale gas producers to produce 1.6 million tons of polyethylene each year.

Polyethylene is used in countless products, from food packaging to plastic containers to automotive parts.

In a statement Tuesday morning, Shell said, “As a result of its close proximity to gas feedstock, the complex and its customers will benefit from shorter and more dependable supply chains, compared to supply from the Gulf Coast.”

The statement went on to say, “The location is also ideal because more than 70 percent of North American polyethylene customers are within a 700-mile radius of Pittsburgh.”

“This announcement signals Shell’s re-entry into the North American polyethylene market. The plant will be one of the largest of its kind in North America – the largest single “from the ground up” industrial investment in the Pittsburgh region in a generation – and the first major U.S. project of its type to be built outside the Gulf Coast region in 20 years,” Allegheny Conference on Community Development CEO Dennis Yablonsky said.

Yablonsky credited the hard work of state and county leaders to bring this facility to the region.

“Throughout the planning process, Shell has demonstrated its commitment to safety, environment and community, and we know that its commitment will continue through the construction process and when the plant is in daily operation,” Yablonsky said. “Today’s announcement is also a victory for U.S. manufacturing. Here in Pittsburgh and the surrounding area, we are ready to go to work combining 21st century innovation with proven strength in manufacturing and industrial operations.

Allegheny County Executive Rich Fitzgerald issued a statement about Shell’s announcement Tuesday morning.

“The project is monumental; the building of this plant will be equivalent to the construction of 25 stadiums. This announcement accelerates our growth to a next level and will provide even more opportunities for our young people. This multi-billion investment will bring economic growth to our region now and for generations to come, and we thank Shell for their decision to invest here,” Fitzgerald said.

Gov. Tom Wolf is excited about the positive economic impact the cracker plant will have on western Pennsylvania.

He joined the “KDKA Morning News” with Larry Richert and John Shumway on Tuesday to talk about the big announcement.

“This is really big” and will create “thousands of construction jobs” Gov. Wolf said. He gave the Corbett Administration a nod stating that they, “deserve real credit for getting it started.”

Gov. Wolf explained that Shell is looking long-term here and this will “create downstream jobs.”

The governor called this the “game-changer everyone has been talking about.”

Former Gov. Corbett, who led the initial effort to attract Shell here over two other competing states, says the cracker plant should lead to other industries.

“What we’re going to see in generations to come is people having opportunity, not just to work in those facilities but to support those facilities and to support those who support those facilities,” he said.

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(TM and © Copyright 2016 CBS Radio Inc. and its relevant subsidiaries. CBS RADIO and EYE Logo TM and Copyright 2016 CBS Broadcasting Inc. Used under license. All Rights Reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten, or redistributed. The Associated Press contributed to this report.)

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