Shell Falcon Ethane Pipeline Work Moving Along
Jun. 25 –RACCOON TWP. — Although it will still be a few years before Shell Chemicals’ ethane cracker plant is operating, construction on the Falcon Pipeline that will feed the plant is well underway.On Friday, a work crew was in Raccoon Township Municipal Park excavating and toiling on the pipe about 10 feet below ground with the drilling site at the nearby Dollar General on Route 18.
Surrounded by mounds of mud from recent rains, the crew installed a trench box over the 12-inch pipe to protect workers from possible landslides. Crews should be out of the park by the end of June and Shell paid for the pavilions not being used during the construction phase.
“We want to be good neighbors,” said Shell Pipeline spokesman David Conti .
Just a short drive away, another crew was preparing to install pipeline under wetlands at the Beaver County Conservation District property in Independence Township .
A temporary platform for vehicle and cranes was installed over a small portion of marsh at the edge of the 79-acre property and the pipe will run 50 feet under the wetlands and then 65 feet under Route 151 before it heads up a hillside.
Conservation District executive director Jim Shaner said the affected marsh area should bounce back by this time next year. As far as other impacts, Shaner said there were extensive discussions with Shell on replanting, including concerns about pollination and bedding for shorebirds as well as special seed mixes and application rates.
“There was careful planning,” Shaner said on Friday.
Shaner spoke while standing on the hillside overlooking the temporary platform and noted that it is ringed with padding to limit noise to 55 decibels and that the wildlife around the marsh, such as blue herons, turkeys, deer, ducks and geese, are still roaming around.
“Basically, this hasn’t even affected us a bit,” he said.
Shaner would not reveal how much money the district is receiving for allowing Shell to use its right-of-way, but he said the revenue would help fund years of educational and maintenance programs.
In fact, he said that the pipeline would be incorporated into student classes to demonstrate how industry and environmental interests can work together.
The work going on in Raccoon and Independence was just a small sample of the activity happening in Beaver County and the region to get the Falcon Pipeline done by the second half of 2020. There will be 22.5 miles of underground pipeline in the county, crossing Independence , Greene , Raccoon and Potter townships.
Doug Scott , the project’s operations manager, said there are about 800 workers in the field on Falcon with the vast majority, about 650, from Minnesota Limited , a unionized pipeline transmission contractor.
Scott said the rest of the workers are inspectors and Conti said the company targeted hiring people from western Pennsylvania .
“They’re invested in this region,” Conti said. “They’re going to look at this and say, ‘Is this safe for my community?'”
The pipeline, which will eventually transport up to 107,000 barrels of ethane per day to the cracker plant, has two legs. A southern leg is coming into Beaver County from the Markwest Houston plant in Washington County and cuts through western Allegheny County .
Another leg is starting in Ohio at Markwest’s Cadiz plant then goes north to the Scio Momentum plant before heading east where it will run 105 feet under the Ohio River and into West Virginia and Beaver County .
Along the two legs, Shell has agreements with about 300 landowners said Shell Pipeline spokesman Virginia Sanchez .
About 3.5 miles south of the cracker plant, the two legs will meet and then head north about 2.5 miles through Potter to the plant, Conti said. Overall, the Falcon project measures 97.5 miles.
There will be a ribbon buried 2 feet above the pipeline, which will typically be installed 4 feet below ground, a foot deeper than required. Scott said the ribbon will serve as a warning to anyone digging that they are coming close to the pipeline.
“This is an indicator to help prevent (accidents),” he said.
Trey Hartstern , Shell Pipeline’s business opportunities manager, said that there are safety shutdown valves placed every eight miles, exceeding the federal standard of one every 15 miles.
Hartstern said the pipeline will be monitored 24/7 by a state-of-the-art center in Houston, Texas . Shell avoided eminent domain in constructing the pipeline, he said, seeking to avoid “conflicts and challenges.”
Officials also stressed the discussions already had with local officials and first responders, especially fire departments that will likely be called in case of an emergency. There is a drill planned for July involving responders along the pipeline route, Sanchez said.
That same thinking has each 38-foot section of pipeline, which is comprised of about 11,000 sections, plastered with a tracking chip that could tell investigators the entire history of that section of pipe should an incident occur.
“We don’t anticipate an event happening,” Sanchez said, “but should one happen we are prepared.”
Sanchez told The Times in March that the pipeline will be constructed 56 feet below the raw water intake line at the Ambridge Water Authority’s Ambridge Reservoir , far deeper than the state requires.
Authority officials and customers have expressed concerns about the pipeline’s proximity to the reservoir and potential harm if the line would break.
Shell also said that it would build an emergency response station near the line’s intersection with the raw water line.
(c)2019 the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.)
Visit the Beaver County Times (Beaver, Pa.) at www.timesonline.com
Distributed by Tribune Content Agency, LLC.