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Odors, pollution leave residents uneasy as Shell reports release at cracker plant

Odors, pollution leave residents uneasy as Shell reports release at cracker plant

POTTER TWP. – Strong odors from a “release of hydrocarbons” at Shell’s wastewater treatment plant are permeating parts of Beaver County.

Those living, traveling and working near Shell’s ethane cracker plant in Potter Township said the “kerosene-like” scent has persisted for at least two days, causing watering, burning eyes, headaches, nausea and other respiratory issues.

“It smells like if you burned rotten potatoes but used garage chemicals to do it,” said Mary Beth Eastman, a Beaver County resident who lives less than five miles from the plant. “I had a headache all afternoon yesterday, plus nausea. I have a headache again today. My daughter has been coughing for two days. She’s 12.”

Shell leaders said Thursday the incident happened as crews drained a process water tank in preparation for scheduled maintenance and shutdown. Workers introduced water in hopes of diluting and eliminating the odor, the company said. Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection received several reports from the public Wednesday related to odors and air quality concerns. Regulators plan to monitor the site as the investigation continues.

“Shell reports (the odors) were caused by oil entering its wastewater treatment plant – this is related to what Shell describes as a ‘controlled shutdown of portions of the site’ for maintenance and repairs,’ a DEP statement read. The company recently announced the controlled shutdown, telling residents to expect “continuous flaring” during the scheduled maintenance.

SOURCE

More: Shell: Expect ‘continuous’ flaring at cracker plant during maintenance

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