Shell, prospective neighbors of petrochemical plant in Potter, Beaver County, to meet

| Thursday, April 3, 2014, 11:53 p.m.

Royal Dutch Shell plc officials will host two public meetings April 16 to update the public about the multi-billion-dollar petrochemical plant it may build in Potter, Beaver County.

The company and local leaders cautioned that the meetings don't mean the company has committed to building the complex but are just another stage of a lengthy site-selection process.

“They want to be ready, if and when the final decision is made, to move forward immediately,” said Beaver County Commission Chairman Tony Amadio.

The company picked Beaver County two years ago as the possible location for the so-called “cracker” plant. It has an option to buy the Horsehead Holding Corp. zinc smelter site.

Shell's chemical division has spent millions in Beaver County, including land purchases and preliminary design work. The energy giant is also paying for ongoing demolition to help clear part of the Horsehead site.

During a March 20 meeting with local and state officials, a Shell representative cautioned that the company has gotten to a similar stage in planning other projects and eventually decided not to move forward, said Frank Vescio, development coordinator in Center, where part of the Horsehead site is located.

“I'm hoping it happens. I think everybody is. I don't think a lot of people realize how big it could be,” Vescio said.

The company is sending mailers to Beaver County residents announcing the public meetings. The company hosted two public meetings about the project in September 2012.

“We haven't spoken to our prospective neighbors and wanted to take the time to understand their concerns and share some insights about where the proposed project stands. No final decisions to build the project have been made,” Shell Oil Co. spokeswoman Kimberly Windon said in a statement. “This is simply an opportunity for people to meet with Shell representatives, and for us to seek their input as we continue with our project evaluation.”

Bill Vidonic is a staff writer for Trib Total Media. He can be reached at 412-380-5621 or bvidonic@tribweb.com.

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