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Proposed Dilles Bottom Cracker Gets Water Permit From Ohio EPA

Air permit still under review

Photo by Casey Junkins With the former R.E. Burger site now covered with snow and ready for new development, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency will allow PTT Global Chemical to discharge wastewater into the Ohio River.

DILLES BOTTOM — PTT Global Chemical officials cleared a hurdle on the track to building a multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker when the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency agreed this week to let the company discharge wastewater into the Ohio River.

Now, as the Thailand-based chemical giant considers whether to make its final investment in the enormous petrochemical complex that would cover several hundred acres, the firm awaits word on whether it will receive permission to discharge certain amounts of pollution into the air.

“Ohio EPA is still reviewing the air permit for PTT Global Chemical America,” agency spokeswoman Heidi Griesmer said.

Air pollutants likely associated with an ethane cracker include nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia, carbon dioxide equivalents, xylene and benzene.

As for the water permit, Ohio regulators held a public hearing regarding the issue at Shadyside High School in September. During the meeting, Eric Nygaard, an official with the agency’s Division of Surface Water, said some of PTT’s wastewater could contain “trace amounts” of polyethylene and ethylene associated with the chemical production process.

“The biology of the Ohio River should not see any effect at all from this discharge,” Nygaard said at the time.

Information the agency provided shows PTT would discharge industrial process water, cooling water, sanitary wastewater and stormwater connected to industrial activity into the river.

This week, officials said permitted discharges may result in changes from current water quality conditions, but cannot violate Ohio’s water quality standards that protect human health and the environment.

In September 2015, Ohio Gov. John Kasich and PTT officials met at the Statehouse in Columbus to confirm plans to spend at least $100 million for engineering and design plans for the plant, which some estimate would cost about $5.7 billion to complete.

In the 16 months since, contractors working on behalf of the firm have evaluated how much work will be needed to build the project to determine if PTT believes it can make the venture profitable.

In July, FirstEnergy Corp. officials blew up the 854-foot-tall smoke stack at the former R.E. Burger plant to make room for the giant plant.

Officials with PTT and Jobs Ohio are expected to make an announcement regarding the decision by the end of March.

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