Still No Final Decision on Belmont County Cracker Plant as PTT Pushes Back Against Activists

There continues to be no end in sight for the ongoing will-they or won't-they drama over the possible construction of a cracker plant in Belmont County.

Over the past couple of weeks the proposed cracker plant has remained in the news, but the latest comments from PTT Global Chemical reveal that there is still no final decision made as to whether the plant will actually be built.  So in the meantime, the possibility continues to exist that the money that has been spent preparing the site, grants that have been awarded, wooing by local officials, and hand-wringing by anti-oil and gas activists is all much ado about nothing.  It is hard to imagine that PTT would come this far and have invested this much money without actually building the plant, but with nearly 5 years expired since they first announced that this project was a possibility, it's anybody's guess at this point what will actually happen.

Here is the latest news.  First, from The Intelligencer:
Some concerned area residents met with representatives of the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency and Gov. Mike DeWine to express concerns about an ethane cracker plant proposed for Belmont County.

The project, being considered by PTT Global Chemical America and Daelim Industrial Co. Ltd., would use the ethane contained in the local natural gas stream to make plastic. If the plant is constructed, it would be located at the former site of FirstEnergy’s R.E. Burger coal-fired electric generating station at Dilles Bottom, south of Shadyside along the Ohio River. 
“The facility has been issued water pollution discharge permits by the OEPA despite concerns about pollution in the Ohio River, which more than 5 million people depend on for clean drinking water,” the group wrote in a news release distributed after the meeting. “The OEPA issued these permits without testing existing levels of toxic chemicals in the Ohio River, leaving the public in the dark about additional pollution from the proposed facility. Recent testing by the Environmental Working Group has revealed that both Cincinnati and Columbus already have dangerous levels of ‘forever chemicals’ like PFAS in their drinking water.” 
Group members pointed out that DeWine has met with PTTGCA officials but thus far has not met in person with concerned residents. The group presented the OEPA and governor’s staff with letters Wednesday that lay out their concerns and requests.
Click here to read the rest of that story.  DeWine's office did not have any comment on the meeting.  But that doesn't mean that DeWine has had no comment on the cracker plant project.

From the Times Leader:
Gov. Mike DeWine believes the multi-billion dollar ethane cracker plant proposed for Belmont County will be built.

The governor discussed the status of the proposed petrochemical complex last week during the Ohio Associated Press 2020 Legislative Preview Session. Reporters from around the state attended the event, held Tuesday at the Thomas J. Moyer Judicial Center in Columbus. 
DeWine responded to questions from The Times Leader and the AP regarding the potential for the plant to be built and about how related environmental concerns are being addressed. 
“I think the plant will be built,” DeWine said. 
He added that he had met recently with “key officials” from PTT Global Chemical LLC and Daelim Chemical USA LLC, the firms partnering on the project. He said those talks occurred “within the last month” but did not reveal details of those discussions.
Continue reading that article by clicking here. 

Meanwhile, PTT representatives responded to the environmental concerns being raised over the project.  Again from The Intelligencer:
The companies contemplating construction of an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County say they are committed to doing all they can to address the threats of climate change and the proliferation of single-use plastics.

Dan Williamson, Columbus-based spokesman for PTT Global Chemical and Daelim Industrial Co. LLC, said the companies fully understand these threats to the environment, and are committed to doing their part to help mitigate them. He added that the firms, based in Thailand and South Korea, respectively, are known for calling attention to, and addressing, these issues in their home countries. 
“Should we reach a final investment decision on this project (at Dilles Bottom), we will be every bit as active and outspoken on these issues in the United States as in Asia,” Williamson said. 
Williamson said the companies have remained rather quiet on environmental issues in the U.S. and the local region thus far, because they have not yet reached a decision on whether to proceed with the Belmont County project. As the discussion has intensified locally, however, with concerned residents staging protests against the project and meeting with state officials to voice their concerns, PTTDLM decided it was time to become more involved in the conversation. 
To that end, Williamson outlined the ways that PTTDLM will demonstrate a commitment to protecting the environment if it moves forward with construction of the Belmont County cracker plant, taking steps beyond “what is legally required.”
To check out the list of steps the company outlined, click here to read the full article. 

And finally, to round out the cracker plant news, here is one more article from the Bellefontaine Examiner:
Ohio’s private nonprofit development corporation announced Friday it will provide a $20 million grant to one of the developers of a proposed multi-billion dollar ethane “cracker” plant to pay a contractor to complete “critical” site engineering and site preparation work. 
Money from the revitalization grant for PTT Global Chemical America will be paid directly to the engineering firm Bechtel Corp, said JobsOhio spokesman Matt Englehart. 
The support of JobsOhio has been vital, and the partnership “continues to work toward a final investment decision” in the first half of this year, said Dan Williamson, a spokesman for PTT Global and its partner, Daelim Chemical USA. 
The economically struggling Appalachian region surrounding southeast Ohio’s Belmont County where the plant would be built has been eagerly anticipating that decision for several years. Thousands of constructions construction jobs and hundreds of permanent positions would be created if the plant is built.
Read the whole article by clicking here. 

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