Shell Suspends Construction at Pa. Cracker Plant

YOUNGSTOWN, Ohio – Shell Chemical Appalachia said Wednesday it would pause construction at its $6 billion petrochemical complex in Monaca, Pa., to address health issues raised by the coronavirus outbreak.  

The decision to halt construction of the multibillion-dollar plant wasn’t made lightly but “is in the best long-term interest of our workforce, nearby townships and the commonwealth of Pennsylvania,” said Hillary Mercer, vice president of Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals, in an emailed statement.  

“The health and well being of our workers and nearby communities remains Shell’s top priority. That’s an ethos we live by every day, but it’s especially relevant at time when the world is taking drastic measures to contain the spread of the COVID-19 virus,” she said. 

In the days ahead, Mercer said Shell would implement “additional mitigation measures” aligned with guidance from the Centers for Disease Control and prevention. 

“Once complete, we will consider a phased ramp-up that allows for the continuation of safe, responsible construction activities,” she said.   

Earlier Wednesday, Beaver County officials held a press conference asn asked the company to suspend work or scale it back, according to the Pittsburgh Press Gazette. Hundreds of workers are performing their trades inside tents, the newspaper noted  

The 386-acre site in Beaver County is where some 7,500 were working daily — 1,000 on the night shift.

“We are at the peak construction phase,” said Shell spokesman Ray Fisher in a story published in the March edition of The Business Journal. “Site workers have erected all of the larger vertical structures, and we are at the stage where we are connecting everything via many miles of pipe and building out the electrical scope across 386 acres.

The plant was on schedule to begin operations in “the early 2020s,” he said.

Published by The Business Journal, Youngstown, Ohio.