Beaver County, Pennsylvania, residents face pollution and lawsuits from Shell's ethane cracker plant

Despite promises of economic growth, Shell's ethane cracker in Beaver County, Pennsylvania has drawn legal challenges and health concerns over its emissions and pollution.

Kiley Bense reports for Inside Climate News.


In short:

  • Residents of Beaver County are moving away due to air and noise pollution from Shell's recently built ethane cracker plant.
  • The plant has already been fined $10 million for exceeding emission limits and is facing lawsuits from locals affected by the pollution.
  • Health concerns include the effects of VOCs and other hazardous pollutants on the community, particularly on children.

Key quote:

“It was very clear what kind of facility this was going to be. We all knew it was going to be bad, but it’s shockingly bad.”

— Anaïs Peterson, petrochemicals campaigner for Earthworks

Why this matters:

Ethane cracker plants are industrial sites that process ethane—a component of natural gas—into polyethylene, a plastic used widely in products from packaging to automotive parts. While these plants are touted for their economic benefits, including job creation and local business support, the environmental and health impacts can be profound. Health concerns are mounting for residents living near the Shell ethane cracker plant in Beaver County, as exposure to pollutants commonly emitted from these plants, such as volatile organic compounds and fine particulate matter, can lead to respiratory problems, heart disease, and other serious health issues.

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