Shapiro Administration Secures $10 Million Payment from Shell, Including $6.2 Million for Local Community to Resolve Air Quality Violations
May 24, 2023
Shell acknowledges company exceeded emission limitations, agrees to repair facility and set aside millions for environmental improvement projects in Western Pennsylvania
Pittsburgh, PA –The Shapiro Administration and Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) today entered into a consent order and agreement (COA) with Shell Chemicals Appalachia, LLC (Shell), in which Shell formally acknowledged that the company exceeded total emission limitations for air contaminants, agreed to make repairs to reduce future exceedances, and agreed to pay nearly $10 million to DEP and the local community. The COA resolves air quality violations during commissioning of Shell’s petrochemical facility in Potter and Center Townships, Beaver County.
Under the COA, Shell will pay a civil penalty of $4,935,023 – and as required by Act 57 of 2011, 25 percent of this penalty will be directed to local communities. Additionally, Shell will spend another $5 million for environmental projects to benefit the local communities. In total, communities in Western Pennsylvania will directly receive $6.2 million for projects to benefit the environment, heath, and quality of life of the community near the facility because of the COA. DEP’s Office of Environmental Justice will collaborate on this effort. Shell will also pay additional monthly civil penalties for the rest of 2023 for any further exceedances. Following the COA, Shell plans to restart operations at the facility on Wednesday, May 24, 2023.
“Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air and pure water, and my Administration will hold all companies – no matter how big or small – accountable when they violate the laws and regulations protecting our air and water,” said Governor Josh Shapiro. “Shell recognizes that as a company, it must do better, and this $6.2 million commitment to the people of Western Pennsylvania is a down payment on that progress. My Administration will continue to work with Shell to ensure they live up to this agreement, and we will be prepared to hold them accountable for any future violations.”
“With this agreement, the Department of Environmental Protection is taking steps to hold Shell accountable and protect Pennsylvanians’ constitutional right to clean air and water while encouraging innovation and economic development in the Commonwealth,” said Rich Negrín, Acting Secretary of the Department of Environmental Protection. “We know that Shell can operate a state-of-the-art facility that helps grow our economy without harming the environment, and we are going to hold them to the requirements laid out in their permits. We are going to make sure that they are good neighbors to this community, and we will be hearing from and working closely with the residents of Beaver County to make sure this $5 million is an investment into the community and the people that live there.”
Shell exceeded its rolling 12-month total emission limitations for volatile organic compounds (VOC) beginning in October 2022 through April 2023, carbon monoxide (CO) from February through March 2023, Nitrogen Oxides (NOx) from December 2022 through April 2023, and Hazardous Air Pollutants (HAP) from December 2022 through April 2023. Shell attributed some of these emissions to malfunctions and anticipates additional exceedances of its 12-month total emission limitations during the commissioning phase into autumn 2023, but not during normal operations.
In addition to emission limit violations, DEP cited Shell for flaring violations from June 2022 through April 2023, malodor violations from its wastewater treatment plant in January, February, and April 2023, and other violations from July 2022 through April 2023.
The COA requires Shell to obtain approvals to repair its totally enclosed ground flares, requires an engineering evaluation on the efficacy of pollution controls, and requires Shell to obtain approvals to install any additional controls. Shell will also continue to report emissions from the facility on a monthly basis.
On March 25, 2023 Shell suspended ethylene and polyethylene production to make repairs and perform maintenance. Results of a recent simulations showed that adequate steam can be provided to the elevated flare prior to restarting operations in order to prevent unlawful smoke emissions. The COA requires the situation be monitored and requires Shell to renew the compliance guarantee monthly until the flares are repaired. A detailed simulation report on the steam system is also required by the COA.
Permitting and compliance information on this facility is available on DEP’s website, https://www.dep.pa.gov/About/Regional/SouthwestRegion/Community%20Information/Pages/Shell-Petrochemical-Complex-.aspx.
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