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Environmentalists rally against Beaver County Shell cracker plant after 1 year of operations

Residents rally against Shell cracker plant after 1 year of operations
Residents rally against Shell cracker plant after 1 year of operations 02:44

MONACA, Pa. (KDKA) -- One year ago, the Shell cracker plant in Beaver County began operating. 

Since then, the multi-billion dollar plastic production facility has been cited for various environmental violations and malfunctions. Opponents of the facility held a rally calling on the company to do more to eliminate what they call a genuine threat to the air, water and soil.

Wednesday marks one year since the cracker plant in Beaver County has been online and operating. To mark the occasion, a group of environmental activists and area residents gathered in Beaver, Beaver County, to point out they believe the company hasn't been a good environmental neighbor.

According to its owners, at full production, the Shell cracker plant in Monaca can pump out 3.5 billion pounds of plastic pellets for single-use plastic bags, bottles, food packaging and toys.

But Wednesday in Beaver, Beaver County environmentalists and some people living close to the massive facility say in the last 365 days, it's produced some things they consider dangerous. 

"In Shell's first year of operation, the facility received 13 notices of violation and at least 26 malfunctions," said Anaïs Peterson of Earthworks.  

Peterson represents Earthworks, an environmental group calling for the company to dramatically improve its operations when it comes to the violations and alleged malfunctions. 

"These malfunctions include a nine-day benzene release, a 65-hour carbon monoxide emission event," Peterson said. 

Since these incidents, opponents of the plant and its operation claim Shell's slow-walked release of compliance and pollution information. Some of those speaking Wednesday say the plant's negative impact has changed their lives. 

"I'm tired of driving home from work and being able to see and smell when Shell is operating before I even get back into town," said Vanport resident Skyler Brimmeier.

"Half my family has moved out of Vanport in recent months because of Shell's presence."

Shell is one of the largest petrochemical producers in the world. The company opened up its checkbook in the last year to pay out some $10 million in fines due to environmental and operational problems.

"Neighbors do not harm their communities. Neighbors do not ignore their communities. Neighbors do not fail to communicate. They are not untruthful -- good neighbors, that is. Good neighbors do not do these things," said Daniel Rossi-Keen, the executive director of RiverWise.

Wednesday afternoon, Shell provided a statement. It says in part, "Safety is our top priority. Safety for our workers, the community and the environment. Shell is committed to complying with all local, state and federal regulations. We have worked in conjunction with the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection to address plant issues that led to prior violations. " 

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