Shutdown of PE production at US site set to continue / Residents criticise odours, flaring
Shell’s (London; US polyethylene production facility in Monaca, Pennsylvania, that first came online in November continues to make headlines.

Shortly after two citizens’ organisations filed lawsuits against the company due to alleged continued violations of environmental regulations, locals have complained once again about the smell of rot, intense flaring, and the release of significant amounts of volatile organic compounds (VOCs). According to local media reports, hydrocarbons are said to have mixed with water from the site’s own wastewater treatment plant. As a result, Shell has had to shut down both the cracker and the PE lines.

The petrochemical plants in Monaca (Photo: Shell)

A company spokesperson confirmed “difficulties with the flare safety system” to but did not elaborate on possible breaches of environmental regulations. They said the lines had been decommissioned “voluntarily, as a precautionary measure” until the system starts working smoothly again. It is unclear how long this will take; Shell did not provide a date for a restart – local media reports indicate an enforced break of several weeks.

The plants include an ethane cracker with an ethylene capacity of 1.5 mn t/y and three PE lines with a combined available output of 1.6 mn t/y.

In the US, citizens’ initiatives and environmental organisations opposed to petrochemical plants have been gaining more support in the recent past. Besides Shell, Formosa’s Sunshine Project in Louisiana, which is still in the planning stage, is supposed to deliver a complete environmental impact assessment, which could lead to the billion-dollar project being overturned, especially since the final investment decision is also pending.

The US initiatives receive prominent and strong monetary backing from US billionaire Michael Bloomberg, who financially supports environmental protection projects in Texas, Louisiana, and Ohio.
25.05.2023 [252824-0]
Published on 25.05.2023
Shell: Polyethylen-Anlagen in Pennsylvania bleiben abgeschaltetGerman version of this article...

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