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Shell’s Generous Gesture: Paying Mere $10 Million for Air Violations and Restarting Plant Production

We can all sleep soundly knowing that Shell will continue to pollute our air and water, while the authorities turn a blind eye, and the community basks in the glory of their unwavering benevolence.

Posting by John Donovan 24 May 2023

In a stunning display of benevolence, Shell Chemicals Appalachia, LLC has agreed to part ways with a whopping $10 million as a token of their appreciation for repeatedly violating air pollution regulations.

The Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (PADEP) and the Shapiro administration have graciously accepted this gesture, marking their first feeble attempt at enforcement since the plant came online in November 2022. But fear not, residents, because Shell, in their infinite wisdom, has decided to resume operations without bothering to notify you in advance, just as they promised in that quaint virtual meeting back in April.

Prepare to be astounded as Shell magnanimously hands over nearly $10 million to Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection and a few western Pennsylvania neighbourhoods as compensation for their adorable air permit violations at the petrochemical complex in Beaver County.

Governor Josh Shapiro announced this grand gesture on Wednesday, revealing that Shell has willingly agreed to part ways with a mere $4.9 million civil penalty to the DEP and an additional $5 million for some environmental projects in the area. Isn’t it heartwarming to witness such selfless acts of corporate responsibility? Shell will also have the pleasure of paying additional monthly civil penalties for any further exceedances they manage to achieve during the rest of 2023. Truly, they’re the gift that keeps on giving.

Shell leadership, in a stunning display of modesty, stated, “We have worked in conjunction with the DEP to fix plant issues that led to prior violations. After making significant improvements that will help us operate more effectively and safely, the (cracker plant) is resuming production. We’ve learned from previous issues and pledge to be the safe environmental steward, good neighbour, and business partner this region wants and deserves.” How reassuring it is to witness such sincere promises from a company that has already demonstrated its utter disregard for the environment and the community.

But wait, there’s more! Shell has also graciously acknowledged that they exceeded emission limitations for air contaminants. As part of the consent order and agreement, they will make some repairs to reduce future exceedances. How thoughtful of them to consider their future polluting endeavours while paying a fraction of the penalty. A generous 25% of the civil penalty will be directed to local communities, in addition to the $5 million. So, rest assured, dear residents, a grand total of $6.2 million will go towards projects benefiting the environment, health, and quality of life of the community near the facility. You’re welcome!

Let’s not forget the cherry on top: Shell’s rolling 12-month emissions limit for volatile organic compounds was casually exceeded from October 2022 through last month. And why stop there? They also managed to surpass the rolling limits of nitrogen oxides and hazardous air pollutants from December 2022 through last month. Oh, how we applaud Shell’s consistency in breaking the rules! State regulators have even had the audacity to cite Shell multiple times for flaring and malodor violations in the past year. It’s truly impressive how Shell manages to maintain such a sterling track record.

As for those pesky elevated levels of benzene detected in April? Mere collateral damage. Shell reported a release of hydrocarbons that caused residents near the petrochemical complex to experience such delightful symptoms as watering, burning eyes, headaches, nausea, and respiratory issues. Ah, the sweet fragrance of progress!

Governor Shapiro, in his infinite wisdom, declared, “Pennsylvanians have a constitutional right to clean air and pure water.” We must applaud his bold statement, even though his administration’s actions contradict this sentiment. But fear not, for Shapiro believes that Shell, with their rich history of violations, will miraculously transform into a beacon of environmental stewardship. This $6.2 million commitment to western Pennsylvania is truly a down payment on that progress. Take heart, residents, for the future looks bright!

Let us not forget that Shell suspended production for repairs in March, including maintenance on its flaring system. The agreement now requires them to seek approvals for repairs and evaluations on pollution controls. Oh, how delightful it is to witness the lengths they go to rectify their past mistakes! I’m sure they’ll put their best foot forward this time.

Finally, the Breathe Project, always the spoilsport, had the audacity to criticize the penalty. Executive director Matthew Mehalik had the nerve to point out that $10 million is a mere fraction of Shell’s enormous $9.6 billion in profits for the first quarter of 2023. How ungrateful! Comparing the penalty to a parking ticket, Mehalik had the audacity to suggest that Shell’s fines should not be seen as charitable donations to the community. Clearly, he doesn’t appreciate the true essence of Shell’s generosity.

So, let us all take a moment to appreciate the magnanimity of Shell, the epitome of corporate responsibility and environmental stewardship. Their $10 million payment is truly a drop in the ocean of their astronomical profits. We can all sleep soundly knowing that Shell will continue to pollute our air and water, while the authorities turn a blind eye, and the community basks in the glory of their unwavering benevolence.

Shell management has a track record of putting profits first, before any other consideration, including the health and safety of its own employees. In other words, money before ethics. This is after all the company that financially supported Hitler and the Nazis. Google “Shell Nazi History”.

Shell is invited to point out for correction any factual inaccuracies and supply closing comments for publication as part of this article on an unedited basis. 

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