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Beaver County's Shell cracker plant project boosts demand for local welders

Megan Guza
| Wednesday, Aug. 2, 2017, 3:39 p.m.
An artist's rendering of what Royal Dutch Shell's proposed ethane cracker plant in Beaver County might look like.
Royal Dutch Shell
An artist's rendering of what Royal Dutch Shell's proposed ethane cracker plant in Beaver County might look like.

An anticipated shortage of local welders to help build a multi-billion ethane cracker plant in Beaver County has led the Steamfitters Local 449 to step up recruitment efforts for apprentices.

The union, which represents about 2,700 workers in 16 counties across Western Pennsylvania, is holding an open house Saturday at its new welding school in Butler County.

The school, known as the Steamfitters Technology Center, is about 20 miles north of Pittsburgh in Harmony. It offers a tuition-free, 17-week apprentice training program.

Ken Broadbent, business manager for Steamfitters Local 449, said the open house is targeting potential apprentices who have attended technical school or already worked in the industry.

“We will be putting hundreds of skilled tradespeople to work in good jobs with competitive pay and benefits and we will make sure they have the training and support they need to succeed in our profession,” Broadbent said.

Shell has said the Beaver County plant will create 6,000 construction jobs and 600 permanent jobs when it is expected to open in the early 2020s. Broadbent said an estimated 450 welders will be needed for the project.

Megan Guza is a Tribune-Review staff writer.

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