By Stephen Merrill Smith, Esq.
NSCW participants heard about Shell’s multi-million investment in Beaver County where the Cracker facility created $ 3-4 billion in additional investment. The significance of the Cracker is that within 70 miles a full 70% of the HDPE processors are co-located because of existing infrastructure like multiple rail lines. This ease of transportation will create roughly $5 billion of more redevelopment investment for commercial and residential purposes, essentially allowing brownfield redevelopment all along these properties. Often the key to redevelopment is having a lynchpin industry come into the area like the Cracker facility for the processing of natural gas for the production of polyethylene.
In the session Revitalization of Old Industrial Sites for Multiple Reuse, Colleen Elliott of Langan focused on the 700 mile radius around the Shell petrochemical complex which includes New York, New Jersey and Eastern Pennsylvania and the opportunity all around the Pittsburgh region. In March of 2012 this region was identified as a redevelopment corridor. Less than six years later, Shell broke ground on a $6 million project for 1.5 million tons of ethelyne and 1.6 metric tons of polyetheyne production per year.
Located in Potter Township, the site has 80+ years of economic activity as a lead and zinc smelter. From a transportation perspective, it is a valuable site because of the rails, water, highways, energy and other infrastructure making it ideal to repurpose. By 2017 Shell remediated 7.2 million pounds of contaminated dirt. Large properties make redevelopment very viable because of the luxury of space.
The complex will feature a cogeneration unit where 2/3rds will be used by Shell and 1/3rd will go back into the grid. Community outreach and education to describe the advantages of capping a site for reuse limits the need to transport material offsite and offers a more sustainable remedial option than incineration and the impacts resulting from that technology.