Cracker plant project advances

PARKERSBURG – State regulators and a company are negotiating a remediation agreement for the site of a proposed ethane cracker plant in Wood County.

The Department of Environmental Protection says its Office of Environmental Remediation has accepted Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise LLC’s application for a Voluntary Remediation Program to address any environmental issues at the site.

Cam Huffman, President of the Wood County Development Authority, said this is a standard step in this kind of project.

“It means they are going to clean up the site before they build on it,” Huffman said. “They are getting all of their ducks in a row.”

The company, also known as ASCENT, is studying the feasibility of building the plant on a 363-acre site in Washington, W.Va. The DEP says ASCENT owns 194 acres and is expected to acquire the remaining land in November 2015.

Cracker plants crack or convert ethane into ethylene, a widely used chemical compound. Ethane is a byproduct of natural gas drilling.

ASCENT’s parent, Odebrecht, announced plans last fall to develop a cracker facility, three polyethylene plants and associated infrastructure in Wood County.

“This is just one more of the things they need to mark off of their checklist,” Huffman said. “It is encouraging because it means they are moving forward on this.”