DEP approves permits for pipeline linking MarkWest to cracker

Rick Shrum
Observer Reporter

The Falcon Ethane Pipeline is a go.

Thursday afternoon, the state Department of Environmental Protection announced it had approved permit applications for the Shell Pipeline Co. Falcon project. The agency decided the applications met requirements of DEP regulations on water obstruction and encroachment and on erosion and sediment control.

Proposals call for the pipeline to begin at the MarkWest natural gas processing plant in Chartiers Township and run through Washington and Allegheny counties into Beaver County, where it would end at the Shell Chemical Appalachia Petrochemical Complex in Potter Township.

Engineers and biologists for DEP consulted with three county conservation districts on the applications on whether they met requirements. DEP also had three public hearings on the applications and got input from about 1,500 people. One of the hearings was at Burgettstown Middle/High School.

A major concern voiced at those hearings was the proximity of the proposed pipeline to the Ambridge Reservoir and the raw water line from the reservoir, which serves the Ambridge Water Authority Water Treatment Plant. In its permit applications, Shell said it would drill below that water line and made other proposals to minimize impacts during construction.

The pipeline will run through about 45 miles of Southwestern Pennsylvania, and also will course through eastern Ohio and the West Virginia panhandle. A separate segment will connect the petrochemical cracker plant with a MarkWest facility in Cadiz, Ohio, and the Utica East Ohio plant in Scio.

Shell Pipeline spokeswoman Virginia Sanchez said, “Shell Pipeline Company LP (SPLC) is pleased that the PADEP permitting process has come to a close and it looks forward to constructing and operating the Pennsylvania portion of the Falcon Pipeline System in a safe and environmentally responsible manner.

The Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration will have jurisdiction over construction and operation of the pipeline.