Outrage over fresh chemical leak at Shell plastics plant

By Dana Drugmand

When Shell Chemical Appalachia announced the start of a massive plastics manufacturing facility last November in western Pennsylvania, the subsidiary of oil major Shell described it as “world-class,” and touted the company’s “strong and innovative safety focus.”

But now, just six months later, the plant has been the site of multiple malfunctions, including the leakage of benzene, a known carcinogen, along with other pollutants last month. The events come with putrid chemical odors and have area resident fearing for their health and calling on state officials to shut the plant down.

“We’re being told everything is ok, everything is safe, and it’s not,” said Hilary Flint, a cancer survivor who said she worries daily about how the malfunctions at the Shell plant may be affecting her health. Though she lives several miles away, she often spends time visiting her partner in Monaca, the community neighboring the Shell plant. Flint said both she and her partner contracted respiratory illnesses the week of the Shell plant’s chemical leak.