Ohio EPA approves proposed ethane cracker to discharge wastewater into the Ohio River

The Ohio Environmental Protection Agency (“Ohio EPA”) has given the green light for PTT Global Chemical to build an ethane cracker in Belmont County, Ohio.  The Ohio EPA has approved the facility to discharge wastewater into the Ohio River and storm water into Lockwood Run/Big Run and the Ohio River. The Ohio EPA issued two final wastewater discharge permits and one 401 Water Quality Certification (WQC).

Capture

Belmont County, OH

An ethane cracker facility processes ethane, a component of natural gas and a byproduct of petroleum refinery. The facility processes – or “cracks” – ethane by heating it in order to break apart the molecular bonds holding it together. The product of this process is ethylene, a raw material used in the manufacture of polymers, fibers, and other organic chemicals, which in turn are used in a wide variety of industrial and consumer markets.

According to the Ohio EPA’s news release, “Permitted discharges may result in changes from current water quality conditions [emphasis added], but cannot violate Ohio’s water quality standards that protect human health and the environment.”  Per the Cleveland Scene, a spokesman for the Ohio EPA “explained during a public meeting last fall, trace amounts of polyethylene and ethylene will be inevitable in the wastewater discharge [emphasis added].”

Site of the future facility

Site of the proposed facility

PTT Global Chemical, a Thai company, is awaiting permit approval to discharge air pollutants, which The Wheeling News-Register lists as likely to be “nitrogen oxides, carbon monoxide, sulfur oxides, volatile organic compounds, ammonia, carbon dioxide equivalents, xylene and benzene”.

Issuance of final permits can be appealed to the Ohio Environmental Review Appeals Commission (ERAC).

Shell Chemical Appalachia is moving forward with its own ethane cracker along the Ohio River in Potter Township, Beaver County, Pennsylvania.