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Critics, defenders debate Shell cracker plant impact as project nears completion

The Times

Critics, defenders debate cracker plant impact as project nears completion

A new report suggests Beaver County has yet to enjoy the long-promised economic growth stemming from Shell Chemicals’ cracker plant, but industry backers say the gains are clear.

Researchers with the Ohio River Valley Institute, a regional think tank focusing on clean energy and environment, released a report Tuesday titled “A Cautionary Tale of Petrochemicals from Pennsylvania,” analyzing Beaver County’s jobs numbers, new business growth, gross domestic product and poverty rates since Shell announced its intention to build here in 2012.

The multi-billion dollar plant, now more than 80% complete, is expected to be fully operational next year. Shell received $1.7 billion in Pennsylvania tax credits to build the facility, which will manufacture plastic pellets for an assortment of industries.

Once operational, the facility will employ 600 permanent employees – 40% to 75% of whom will live in Beaver County, according to a Robert Morris University study commissioned by Shell earlier this year.

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