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.
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.