PARKERSBURG, W.Va. — Plans for an ethane cracker plant in Wood County took a couple of steps forward Thursday when Ascent, the Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise, filed two permitting documents with the state Department of Environmental Protection.

The company is seeking an Air Quality Permit and has made application to participate in DEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program.

File photo

This is part of the property that will be under the DEP’s Voluntary Remediation Program.

DEP Environmental Resources Specialist Dave Hight said Ascent will enter into an agreement with the agency to clean-up the Ohio River site in Washington of any contaminants. Much of the 363-acre site used to be home to a GE Plastics Plant. The program will include site assessment, risk assessment and remedial action.

“They have assumed the responsibility for seeing the remediation of the property and then redevelopment of the property for beneficial use,” Hight said.

The remediation process could take up to two years. Hight said he saw no major problems with contaminants on the site following a preliminary review.

“I didn’t see what you would call ‘red flags,'” he said. “It looks amazingly for a site this size and as long as it’s been in operation—I didn’t see any signs of contaminants of concern.”

It’s possible remediation of the site and construction on the cracker could take place at the same time according to Hight.

“As long as it’s not interfering with the investigation they could proceed with construction,” he said.

Ascent, a subsidiary of Odebrecht, announced plans for an ethane cracker plant last November. It could create hundreds of construction jobs. Once online it will be a key project in the state’s Marcellus shale natural gas industry.

Since the announcement the company has exercised an option to purchase the property and taken several other steps. The Sabic plant, which currently operates on the property, will close in the coming months. The company has also signed an agreement with Antero to become one of the ethane suppliers for the plant.

Hight said once the remediation program is concluded Ascent will receive a Certificate of Completion from the state DEP.

“It will show they’ve met all of the human health and ecological standards and it’s a covenant from the state that they have met those standards and there will be no enforcement action related to the contamination as it’s known,” Hight said.

Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin said back in March he hoped to see some construction on the cracker plant by the first quarter of 2015.

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  • Mason County Contrarian

    Holy cow. Earl's November "latest game changer" fracker announcement led us to believe construction was imminent. Our hopes are now hinging on the filing of paperwork? It is hoped that something MAY start by 2015? West Virginians needed jobs last year. A premature announcement only reinforces the notion that state government rests our fortunes on shell games rather than concrete results. "Hope" doesn't buy many groceries at Krogers, Earl.

    Tune in next year for the continuing saga of "Earl's Phantom Fracker".

    • ViennaGuy


      If you want to talk about a "phantom cracker," you need to talk about the on-again, off-again cracker plant that Shell can't seem to make up its mind on building in Pennsylvania.

      The fact remains that the ASCENT cracker plant is already farther along than the proposed Shell cracker plant in Pennsylvania. Is the ASCENT cracker plant a guaranteed thing? Of course not; nobody has said that it's a guaranteed thing - but as of now, it stands a better chance of completion than the Shell cracker plant.

      As bookman said, nobody promised that it would be built by now. SABIC, which currently occupies the property, even stated that they weren't going to shut down their plant and start vacating the property until early 2015. Did you really think that ASCENT would start construction without demolishing the existing plant first?

      Why are you so down on this? Don't you want local people to have good-paying jobs and contribute to the tax base? Or would you rather them be on the public dole?

    • The bookman

      C'mon MCC,

      Tomblin was clear that this was a long process with many hurdles, but that both sides were committed to the success of the project. Can't you be happy for the region, of which Mason County is a part. Moving forward on a game changing insertion into our economy should be exciting. I get that you don't want to declare it a booming success and done deal, but in the face of continued progress, why the negativity?

    • scott

      did you think it would be built by now? this has nothing to do with Tomblin or anyone else, its in the hands of DEP. did you read the article?

  • David

    GE... Another massive financier of the Democratic Party and the Obama AD leaves yet another toxic waste site for the taxpayers or some other company to clean up.

    Why wasn't GE made to remediate or reclaim the land to suitability when they sold it or removed the plant?

    At least they are polluting China now.

    • scott


      You don't research before you post things do you?

  • ViennaGuy

    Great news ... let's keep the momentum rolling!