EPA issues air permit for proposed PTT ethane cracker plant
SHADYSIDE — A proposed ethane cracker plant is one step closer to becoming a reality after the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a permit for the project Friday.
The air permit-to-install was issued for the PTT Global Chemical petrochemical complex that may be built in the Dilles Bottom area, specifically at Old Route 7 and Ferry Landing Road, Shadyside. A public hearing regarding the permit was held at Shadyside High School on Nov. 27, allowing area residents, labor unions, environmental advocates and others to weigh in on the potential effects of air pollution that might be released from the plant. More than 30 people offered official testimony during the session; while many expressed fear that the plant will harm human health and the region’s environment, others said they hope it will bring jobs and additional development to Belmont County.
“Ohio EPA is proud to be part of the effort to bring critical jobs to Ohio, with issuance today of the final environmental permit PTTGC America needs to proceed with its ethane cracker plant,” Ohio EPA Director Craig W. Butler said Friday. “We have been careful to ensure this facility will not have an adverse impact on the air, water or health of the surrounding communities.”
The permit will allow Thailand-based PTT and its partner, Daelim Industrial Co. LLC of South Korea, to construct a 1.5 million tons-per-year ethane cracker plant, which has been projected to bring thousands of construction jobs and hundreds of permanent positions to the Ohio Valley. The companies have invested millions of dollars in design work and planning and to buy property at the proposed site. However, they still have not committed to building the project, which could cost as much as $10 billion.
According to Ohio EPA, the plant would use six ethane cracking furnaces and manufacture ethylene, high-density polyethylene and linear low-density polyethylene, which are used in plastics and chemical manufacturing. As a result of this process, carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxide, volatile organic compounds, particulate matter and greenhouse gases are expected to be emitted from the plant, but Ohio EPA has determined those pollutants would not exceed acceptable levels as defined by state and federal laws.
Ohio EPA made the following changes to the proposed permit prior to approving it as a result of receiving public comment:
∫ The option to detect equipment leaks using an infrared camera was added to the permit. This means PTTGCA can use either the portable hand-held monitor or the infrared camera to detect leaks.
∫ Multiple minor errors were corrected throughout the document.
∫ The computer modeling of emissions was re-run to correct some minor inconsistencies between the original modeling and the permitted emission limits. The modeling continues to demonstrate that local air quality and public health will be protected, according to Ohio EPA.
Ohio EPA said its agents considered all comments received before making a final decision on the permit. The final permit and the Response to Comments document are available online at epa.ohio.gov/dapc/newpermits/issued.
Ohio EPA is still considering a modification to the company’s wastewater discharge permit and held a public hearing on that matter on Dec. 12, but the company could start building using its existing permit. The agency is expected to make a decision on the water permit modification later this month.
Belmont County Commissioner Mark Thomas, who will leave office at the end of the year, was excited to hear that the air permit had been approved.
“We are very pleased to receive news of this positive air permit issuance as it is one of the last few regulatory matters to clear the way to a positive PTTGC America and Daelim announcement,” Thomas said. “I would like to personally thank Director Craig Butler and the Ohio EPA staff for its professionalism, due diligence and efficiency during the permit process. I, too, thank everyone who spoke in favor of said permit at the public hearing for that process is very vital to any permit application.
“We are now poised to continue to move forward to a 2019 favorable final investment decision,” he added, “one of which will solidify the future economic growth for many years to come.”
Dan Williamson, spokesman for PTTGC America, agreed that the approval is a positive step for the project.
“This is good news from the Ohio EPA,” Williamson said. “Approval of the permit is a critical milestone for the final investment decision for the project.”
Ohio EPA pointed out Friday that issuance of final permits can be appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission, generally within 30 days of the final action. Call ERAC at 614-466-8950 for more information on filing an appeal.