Shell has been fined $10m for emission limit breaches at its plant in Beaver County, Pennsylvania, US, but expects further breaches.  

A press release from the office of Pennsylvania Governor Josh Shapiro said: “Shell formally acknowledged that it exceeded total emission limitations for air contaminants, agreed to make repairs to reduce future exceedances, and agreed to pay nearly $10m to the Department of Environmental Protection and the local community.“  

Shell will pay a $4.9m civil penalty, 25% of which will be directed to local communities. It will also be required to spend $5m on environmental projects within the community. Shell will also pay monthly civil penalties for the rest of 2023. 

The company said that some of the emissions came from “malfunctions” and that it anticipates more annual emissions limit breaches until late 2023. This covers the commissioning phase of the plant, but the company expects lower emissions during normal operations. 

Shapiro said: “My administration will hold all companies – no matter how big or small – accountable when they violate the laws and regulations protecting our air and water.” 

Environmental controversy continues at Shell refinery 

Located in the Potter and Center townships, Beaver County, the petrochemical plant began operations in November 2022. The site produces polyethylene by cracking ethane and has faced environmental criticism for both emissions production and the creation of single-use plastics. 

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Shell’s plant has been the subject of ongoing controversy since its opening. In addition to emissions violations, the US Department for Environmental Protection has criticised Shell for flaring and malodour violations at the plant. 

Last week, Shell’s plant was in “shutdown mode” in order to fix flaring and wastewater issues. Shell stated that it “fully expects to be back in operation in the next few weeks, if not sooner”. 

Shell’s CEO Wael Sawan has referred to the problems as “technical niggles”, saying the company seeks to continue production once they are solved.

Shell has not yet responded to Offshore Technology’s request for comment.