Cracker a Nightmare

Editor, News-Register:

Regarding the cracker plant, the author of a 7/19/19 editorial wrote, “it will be the most important economic development activity in decades for our area.”

Will it, though? The Beaver County cracker plant employs 6,000 people for construction of the facility. Once it’s up and running, however, it will only employ 400, and most workers come from out of state. The last few tenants in our rental house — all gas industry workers — have been from North Dakota, here for a short time. The promise of jobs is false.

The environmental effects of a cracker plant are dire. According to the American Lung Association, the Ohio Valley already has an air quality problem; the growth of the industry will add to it. Data from 2018 revealed cities with the dirtiest air, with one being the most polluted and 100 being the cleanest. Wheeling’s air ranked at 13.1, while Pittsburgh’s score was an abysmal 7.2.

Wheeling sits in a petrochemical bullseye. We’ll receive polluted water from the Beaver County plant and toxic air from the proposed plant in Dilles Bottom. Louisiana has already gone down the petrochemical road. They call it “Cancer Alley,” now. The EPA says the region has the highest risk of developing cancer from air toxins. In addition to higher rates of cancer, we can look forward to increased respiratory problems, headaches, heart issues, and cognition problems, among many others.

The health effects for Ohio County will cost $3.1 million per year and $94 million over the next 30 years. Three generations from now, our great-grandchildren will be saddled with an environmental and health crisis we created.

West Virginia is already last on every list. We’re fat, uneducated, unhappy, and addicted, according to national research. We can’t keep our young people here. Why would they want to live in a place that sacrifices their health and future on the altar of corporate greed? Are we going to look our grandchildren in the eye and tell them we knew they might get sick when we made these decisions?

When West Virginia legalized gambling, we were told everything was going to get better. When the gas industry came, we were told everything was going to get better. How many times are we going to believe these promises, and at what cost?

The cracker plant is NOT a dream we hope fervently will become reality. Do not speak for us. It is a nightmare we will fight with everything we have.

Laura Jackson Roberts



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