DeWine ‘optimistic’ about proposed cracker plant
COLUMBUS, Ohio — 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.
“They have invested a lot of money,” DeWine added. The developers have purchased about 500 acres of land, including the former R.E. Burger power plant site for $13 million, and have invested tens of millions more in engineering and site preparation work. “I don’t have a crystal ball, but I am optimistic.”
DeWine further said he had met with Ohio Environmental Protection Agency Director Laurie Stevenson just six days prior to the legislative preview session. He said he asked her for assurances that there would be no environmental problems connected with the plant, if it is built. The governor added that he wants to be certain everything related to the project will be “done right.”
Stevenson also met last month with residents from the local area who traveled to Columbus to air concerns about the potential environmental impact of the plant. She connected them with technical experts for more information about data and modeling that went into permitting decisions. and talked with the group about the agency’s responsibility to enforce its permits if the project moves forward.
Early last week, PTTDLM spokesman Dan Williamson provided information in response to increasing protests by local residents who fear the plant will cause long-term harm to the region and its inhabitants.
First, Williamson said, PTTDLM will assess all products under research and development using eco-design criteria. It will also use renewable instead of fossil-based material when possible and create products that are more easily degradable.
Continuous emission monitoring systems will be installed, he said, and operators will strive to optimize the use of resources throughout the supply chain. PTTDLM plans to sell carbon dioxide byproducts to producers of sodium carbonate and to collaborate with stakeholders to optimize the reuse of waste. The developers say they also would educate local communities and students about the basics of waste sorting. Upcycling of plastic waste would be another focus.