Pollution: Enforcement offers model for expansion

Officials up the river believe it is very likely construction of the proposed PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker plant will proceed at Dilles Bottom, Ohio. If so, it will open a door of opportunity for many in that region.

But it is also an opportunity to get environmental protection right — in the minds of those highly skeptical on the matter.

Earlier this month, the Ohio Environmental Protection Agency issued a “permit-to-install” regarding air emissions from the plant. Approval followed intensive study of plans for the plant.

Public hearings held by the OEPA and other agencies revealed a substantial amount of concern about the plant’s effects on air and water quality. Some fear it will be hazardous to the health of local residents.

That is no surprise. For generations, steel mills, chemical plants, coal mines and other industrial facilities along the entire Ohio River were virtually unfettered in pumping pollutants into the air and water. Too many people remember the bad old days, for which there are still consequences.

Now, however, virtually everyone recognizes the importance of air, water and soil protected against dangerous pollutants. State and federal laws mandate such protection.

OEPA officials are confident their review of PTT’s plans was exhaustive. The cracker venture will be required to adhere to strict limits and controls. They will be enforced.

Good. We know it is possible to produce what modern society demands in an environmentally sound manner. Doing so is not optional.

Officials at the OEPA have released detailed plans for monitoring emissions from that cracker plant. They, along with the limits being enforced, are safeguards against dangerous pollution of the type critics warn against.

It can be done. We CAN have economic progress and a clean environment.

Should the PTT cracker plant prove to be a demonstration of that, it and the process surrounding its development must serve as a template for other similar facilities — and auxiliary industries — here in the Mid-Ohio Valley.