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Pittsburgh Shell Plant Accused of Violating Emissions Limits

 Posted on March 09, 2023 in Toxic Exposure

plant emitting toxic chemicals

Pittsburgh is home to many industrial facilities that often emit toxic chemicals into the air, soil, and water. These facilities are required to report their emissions to the federal Environmental Protection Agency (EPA) and the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection (DEP). Unfortunately, with so many of these plants in Pittsburgh and the surrounding region, many people live close to these sites, and they may be exposed to toxic chemicals and other harmful substances. Recently, a plant operated by Shell has been accused of violating its permits and emitting much higher levels of toxic substances than is allowed.

Plant Emits High Levels of VOCs and Particulate Matter

The Shell Polymers Monaca plant officially opened in November 2022 despite the objections of environmental groups and local residents, although it had already been operating for several months at that point. It produces plastic pellets, and it was licensed to emit 522 tons of volatile organic compounds (VOCs) and 159 tons of fine particulate matter each year. Two environmental groups, the Environmental Integrity Project and the Clean Air Council, have been monitoring the emissions from the plant, and they have announced their intent to sue Shell for violating its limits on VOC emissions.

The groups stated that the plant violated the federal Clean Air Act and the Pennsylvania Air Pollution Control Act. In fact, a letter sent by the groups to Shell stated that the plant violated its 12-month rolling limits for VOC emissions in September, October, and November of 2022, with the emissions from September alone nearly exceeding the allowed amount of emissions for the entire year. If action is not taken to limit emissions, the groups stated that it is likely that the yearly limits will continue to be violated on a monthly basis.

The plant has received multiple notices of violations and other warnings detailing issues of concern. In addition to concerns about VOC emissions, environmental advocates have noted that the plant uses natural gas, requiring the production of methane that is likely to raise global temperatures. The plant also cleared asbestos from a facility that was formerly located on the site without informing the DEP. Residents have also been concerned about plastic pellets from the plant being released into the local water supply. While Shell has stated that the excess emissions during the first few months of the plant's operation occurred due to "flaring" related to equipment malfunctions and the initial uses of new systems, there is no indication that the violations will cease or that the level of emissions will be reduced.

Volatile organic compounds include numerous different chemicals that may be harmful to people, such as ethylene glycol, formaldehyde, benzene, toluene, and xylene. They can have a number of effects, ranging from irritation of the eyes and throat, headaches, nausea, dizziness, and asthma for those who have experienced short-term exposure to cancer and damage to the liver, kidneys, and nervous system for those who experience chronic exposure.

Contact Our Pittsburgh Toxic Chemical Exposure Lawyers

If you have experienced health problems that you believe were caused by toxic chemicals or other substances emitted from a plant or facility in the Pittsburgh area, Colianni & Leonard LLC can help you determine your legal options. We will work with you to hold a company responsible for harming you and your family, and we will fight to ensure that you will be fully compensated for your damages. Contact our Allegheny County toxic substance exposure attorneys at 412-680-7877 to schedule a free consultation and learn more about how we can help you.


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