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“How to Pollute and Piss Off Your Neighbors” starring Shell

Posted by John Donovan: 20 Feb 24

Welcome, ladies and gentlemen, to the latest episode of “How to Pollute and Piss Off Your Neighbors,” starring Shell, the ever-gracious host of Beaver County’s most talked-about bash. It’s not your average garden party, folks. This is a shindig where the aroma of ethane cracker emissions fills the air, and the ambiance is set by the gentle glow of flaring accidents and the melodious sounds of industrial clamor. Who needs Spotify playlists when you have the symphony of Shell’s ethane cracker plant serenading you?

In a twist that surprised absolutely nobody, the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP) has been playing party pooper, citing Shell for being the life of the pollution party a tad too enthusiastically. Shell, in a moment of magnanimity, didn’t bother to argue and agreed to a nearly $10 million “party fund” in fines and “contributions” to the community. But the hangover from this fête is far from over.

Enter John Flynn, a local resident who, unlike Shell, doesn’t think toxic emissions make for a great neighborhood ambiance. Flynn and his legal squad are aiming to turn this solo complaint into a class-action extravaganza, claiming the plant’s “substantial and unreasonable noxious odors, fugitive dust, and light emissions” have turned the area into the ultimate “private, public nuisance.”

Imagine, if you will, trying to enjoy a quiet evening on your patio, only to be greeted by the sweet stench of chemicals and the soothing vibrations of what sounds like a freight train in your backyard. Flynn describes a reality where inviting friends over becomes a question of how much toxic ambiance one’s guests can tolerate before fleeing in horror. And let’s not forget the pièce de résistance, the bright glow in the sky, ensuring that no one in Beaver County needs to use a nightlight ever again.

According to the lawsuit, a properly behaved ethane cracker plant wouldn’t dream of belching emissions into residential zones. But Shell’s facility, it seems, missed the memo on manners, failing spectacularly at preventing hydrocarbon overflows and sticking to those pesky air pollution regulations.

Shell, in a statement dripping with concern, assured everyone they are “committed to the health and well-being of its employees, the surrounding community, and the environment.” How comforting.

The lawsuit is now seeking to bring Shell to court, hoping for a jury trial and damages for turning the local area into a festival of nuisances. As this legal battle unfolds, one thing is clear: Shell’s Beaver County plant is throwing the kind of party that could make Gatsby green with envy—if only Gatsby was into pollution and public uproar, that is.

So, dear readers, as we await the outcome, let’s raise our glasses (indoors, away from the noxious fumes) to the hope that Shell might one day realize that the best parties are those that don’t involve making an entire community want to RSVP “Hell No.”

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