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State DEP action clears way for construction of Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline in 3 counties | TribLIVE.com
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State DEP action clears way for construction of Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline in 3 counties

Stephen Huba
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Royal Dutch Shell
An artist’s rendering of what Royal Dutch Shell’s ethane 'cracker' plant in Beaver County might look like when completed.

The ethane pipeline that will feed Royal Dutch Shell’s “cracker” plant in Beaver County has cleared another hurdle with the state.

The state Department of Environmental Protection said it has approved permits for the Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline , 45.5 miles of which will be located in southwestern Pennsylvania .

The agency said it conducted three public hearings and reviewed nearly 1,500 comments during the permitting process — in some cases resulting in modifications to the permit applications or permit conditions. The permits cover Chapter 105 (water obstruction and encroachment) and Chapter 102 (erosion and sediment control) of the DEP’s regulations.

The 97-mile pipeline will connect three major ethane source points — Houston, Pa., Scio, Ohio, and Cadiz, Ohio — and deliver the feedstock to the ethane cracker plant currently being built in Potter Township near Monaca, according to Shell Pipeline Co. LP.

Royal Dutch Shell is building the $6 billion facility on the Ohio River with a view toward using ethane from the Marcellus and Utica Shale reservoirs and processing it into ethylene and, finally, polyethylene for the plastics industry.

The Pennsylvania portion of the pipeline will begin at the MarkWest Houston Processing and Fractionation Facility in Chartiers Township, Washington County, and travel through Washington, Allegheny and Beaver counties before ending at the cracker plant, according to the DEP.

A separate segment of the pipeline will connect a MarkWest facility in Cadiz, Ohio, and the Utica East Ohio plant in Scio, Ohio, to the petrochemical complex in Beaver County.

One concern addressed in the permitting process was the proximity of the proposed pipeline to the Ambridge Reservoir and the raw water line from the reservoir that serves the Ambridge Water Authority Water Treatment Plant, the DEP said.

Construction of the pipeline is expected to start in the spring. The pipeline and the plant are expected to be operational sometime in 2020.

FracTracker Alliance, an environmental group, said it was disappointed with the DEP’s decision to approve the permits, saying the agency “brushed over dozens of substantial concerns” regarding the pipeline.

“We remain unconvinced that the ‘appropriate construction techniques and special conditions’ required by DEP will adequately protect the environment and health and safety of residents along the Falcon pipeline route,” the group said.

Stephen Huba is a Tribune-Review staff writer. You can contact Stephen at 724-850-1280, [email protected] or via Twitter @shuba_trib.

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