Director supports petrochemical complex

As the Executive Director of the Community Improvement Corp. of Belmont County, a nonprofit organization that has been dedicated to economic development in the county since 1962, I support the proposed PTTGCA/Daelim petrochemical complex in Dilles Bottom.

I am in support of this project because of the immediate and lasting effects it will have on job creation and business development in Belmont County. The thousands of construction jobs and the hundreds of permanent jobs that will be created directly by this project is just the start.

While we may not have enough chemical engineers locally, having those positions available to others will have a ripple effect in our county. If a new family moves here to fill that position, who will teach their children? Our teachers. Who will take care of them when they are sick? Our nurses and doctors. Who will sell them houses? Our local Realtors.

Is your child good in math and science? If PTTGCA and Daelim commit to this project ­ and it takes years to build ­ now is the time for your child to think about engineering or a technical career where there will be hope for a job here at home when he or she graduates from college or technical school.

From a historical perspective, I care about the area in which this proposed plant will operate, because it is the land of many of my ancestors.

While I did not move to Belmont County until the mid-1990s, some of my ancestors were among the first settlers to move into the Captina Creek area in 1798. I can read one of my grandfatherás journals from the mid-1800s where he talks about life in those early years ­ the wildlife, agriculture and businesses. It was and is a special place. In 2018, I see my friends fishing and kayaking, and their children swimming, in the waters. I want that for future generations as well.

I also care deeply about our environment. Iáve worked in environmental education. I try to reduce my own footprint on this Earth. Because I care, I also sit on the board of a local organization which has a mission to promote, preserve and protect the biodiversity, natural beauty and environmental health of its watershed.

From an economic development perspective, the cleaner the water, the cheaper it is to treat for human use. The cleaner the water, the easier for other industries to use that water. And the Community Improvement Corp. is working with those other industries as well to diversify the economy and energy portfolio. It takes time and teamwork.

Because of the infrastructure now being upgraded and installed in Belmont County, I have hope for creating and attracting other industries that we could not compete for before. As site selectors will tell you, we compete against 3,000 counties in the United States. If we did not have oil and gas, we would not have this opportunity.

We have residents in parts of Belmont County who do not have clean well water today due to damage by industry decades ago, before environmental regulation. I do not want to go back to those days, either. I thank the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency for leading the environmental review process, which ensures a thorough review of the safety and sustainability of this project. Their process has included public hearings about the air permit and wastewater permit.

This proposed project in Belmont County is required by law to apply best available control technology to air and wastewater treatment. I know that the Ohio EPA will continue to monitor the application of that technology to ensure the protection of this community.

In December 2016, the Ohio EPA issued a National Pollutant Discharge Elimination System for the proposed petrochemical complex in Belmont County. Because of changes in the complexás configuration, there will be an overall net decrease in the plantás raw water requirements and in the volume of industrial wastewater to be discharged. That means the permit before the OEPA on Dec. 12 reflected a project that will have even less impact on water in the Ohio Valley than the one that has already been approved. That is good news.

I have been pleased to learn about PTTGC and Daelimás values of balancing business with building a sustainable future and of their social responsibility to the safety, health and environment. Iáve learned of their recycling and upcycling initiatives in their home country in order to help keep their water clean. They help educate children about the responsible use and disposal of plastics. The company has also sponsored competitions for innovations where the participants must use methods or products that are environmentally sustainable.

I trust that these companies will make Belmont County home, be a part of our community and help us take care of Belmont County together.

Crystal Lorimor is executive director of the Community Improvement Corp. of Belmont County