Cracker Plant Opponents Will Host Forums in Martins Ferry and Moundsville

A group opposed to possible construction of an ethane cracker plant in Belmont County is scheduled to hold two public meetings in the region.

The FreshWater Accountability Project is slated to hold a meeting from 1-4 p.m. Saturday at the Martins Ferry Public Library, 20 S. Fifth St., and another from 6-7:30 p.m. Wednesday at the Moundsville Public Library, 700 Fifth St., Moundsville.

Lea Harper, managing director of the FreshWater Accountability Project, said she began the group in 2010 after having negative experiences with the natural gas industry near her former hometown of Senecaville, Ohio.

She believes people are being shortchanged, forced into supporting an industry that can create unhealthy air and water because of the need for jobs. However, the promise of a high number of jobs coming to the area because of the plant, she believes, also is not true.

“We need to demand lives for ourselves and our communities,” she said. “Short-term jobs are never worth long-term pollution.”

During the meeting, a presentation will be made and people can then ask questions. However, Harper said she will not tolerate people from the industry intentionally disrupting the meetings. If they attempt to do so, they will be asked to leave.

“We can’t buy the false narrative anymore,” she said.

It has been reported previously that air quality permits show that a ethane cracker plant being constructed in Monaca, Pennsylvania, could emit carbon monoxide, nitrogen oxides, ammonia, xylene and benzene and other pollutants.

According to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, the Monaca cracker has the potential to emit the following air pollutants annually: 348 tons of nitrogen oxides; 1,012 tons of carbon monoxide; 21 tons of sulfur oxides; 522 tons of volatile organic compounds; 152 tons of ammonia; and 2.24 million tons of carbon dioxide equivalents.

The proposed Belmont County plant by PTTGC America LLC would be south of Shadyside at Old Ohio 7 and Ferry Landing Road, according to the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency.

The Ohio EPA in January 2017 approved wastewater discharge permits into the Ohio River and stormwater into Lockwood Run and the river for the proposed plant. It also approved a 401 Water Quality Certification, which allows for the discharge of dredged or fill material into the streams and wetlands during construction.

According to Ohio EPA, a public hearing on the plant and its potential discharges into streams was held in 2016 in Shadyside. People spoke in favor of the plant coming, while others expressed concern about pollution. In one reply, the EPA noted water sampling for pollution monitoring would be conducted by cracker plant officials, with periodic and annual checks by federal authorities. It was noted the EPA cannot require the company to use a third party to take the samples.

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