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Belmont County Ethane Cracker is ‘Net Positive’ for Ohio Valley

WHEELING — Although Wheeling is about 13 miles north of the proposed PTT Global Chemical petrochemical plant, Mayor Glenn Elliott said the Friendly City could become a “corporate headquarters” for some of the companies that may follow the development.

“It’s almost all going to be a net positive,” Elliott said after listening to speakers during a forum about the potential ethane cracker held Thursday at the Ogden Newspapers Printing & Technology Center in Wheeling.

“It is in our interest that this project be built in Belmont County,” he added. “We have to forget about arbitrary lines and boundaries.”

The proposed giant plant would accept ethane pumped from Marcellus and Utica shale wells, which remains in overabundance because there is still no cracker in the region. The technology would transform this material into ethylene, which can be used to make plastics, textiles and pharmaceuticals.

Wheeling has a few former industrial areas that could potentially be repurposed for business associated with the ethane cracker. However, Elliott said having “a lot of office space” downtown gives the city a solid chance to attract interest from companies in the shale business. Wheeling’s tallest building, the former Wheeling-Pittsburgh Steel Corp. headquarters on Market Street, is one possibility.

In addition to office space, Wheeling could be a place of residence for some of the workers involved with the development. This may potentially lead to more loft apartments.

However, Elliott acknowledged there are potential negative aspects of such a giant petrochemical plant, including rental rates that become unaffordable for some current residents.

“Could some folks get displaced? That’s possible,” Elliott said of some renters. “We have to be prepared to deal with this in terms of affordable housing.”

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