Building A ‘Cracker’ Here

Editor, News-Register:

Mike Myer’s opinion piece (July 27) about limitations for an ethane cracking plant in our region, specifically questioning where construction workers would come from, was wrong.

West Virginia and surrounding states are excellent places to locate an ethane cracker because we have the local, highly skilled and productive workers to build it.

And our many quality local contractors can be valuable partners for the various subcontracting needs a cracker would require.

Myer’s mistake was in listening to sour grapes from a company that chose to overlook local skilled construction workers and import a Texas contractor and its workers.

What a flop that turned out to be. The Texas company promised the world but failed to deliver. After 21 months working on a project that was to take 15 months, they limped out of town and were replaced by local workers and contractors.

Local workers and contractors are already building major projects for the gas industry. We prove daily we have the talent and numbers to successfully tackle any project that comes our way, including an ethane cracker.

The formula to our success is two-fold. First, we have the best apprenticeship and training programs around that produce highly skilled and productive workers able to finish a job on time and within budget.

Myer believes it would take 10,000 workers to build an ethane cracker. Maybe in China, but not here. Those familiar with our region know, because of our high productivity, the number needed is closer to 3,500, peaking at 5,000 workers.

Secondly we’re committed to an alcohol and drug-free workforce. This isn’t just a paper policy but a meaningful program involving testing and education that gets results.

Yes, building a cracker might stretch any area’s manpower limits, but think of the opportunities it will open up for young men and women who can become apprentices and not only build a project but start a career. Returning veterans also could benefit through our “Helmets-to-Hardhats” program that helps those leaving the military find rewarding construction careers.

Myer was correct in saying our region has ample feedstock for a cracker but missed the mark when he overlooked our fantastic stock of local workers and contractors.

I’ve met Mike Myer, and while we may disagree on a number of issues, I know he would be thrilled to see West Virginia prosper with the addition of an ethane cracker. I urge him to rethink his opinion and not be so quick to dismiss West Virginia’s skilled workers and the contractors who hire them.

Steve White, director

Affiliated Construction Trades