BCMAC Recommended to Receive Largest Award from Shell Consent Order and Agreement

MONACA, PA (June 3, 2024) — The Beaver County Marcellus Awareness Community (BCMAC) has been awarded $631,534.22 from the Environmental Mitigation Community Fund, which totals $10 million. The advisory board of Beaver County stakeholders was created last May after Shell signed a consent order and agreement with Pennsylvania’s Department of Environmental Protection to resolve months of pollution exceedances at the company’s Potter Township ethane cracker plant.
BCMAC’s project will assess the quality of air in Beaver County on a continual and real-time basis, gather data to help determine if air pollution in the county has health impacts, and empower community members to make informed decisions about their health and safety. “As a grassroots organization dedicated to environmental awareness and public health advocacy, BCMAC is committed to promoting clean air and a healthy environment for all residents of Beaver County. It’s a shame these funds have to be awarded at all but we are committed to making sure we use them wisely to protect our community members,” said Hilary Starcher- O’Toole, Executive Director of BCMAC.
BCMAC will work with the Environmental Health Project (EHP) to install five continuous air monitors throughout the county. EHP will analyze, visualize, and interpret the data collected from these monitors to help community members understand where the air pollution is coming from and what health outcomes they may expect. They will also provide community education about air pollution and the health impacts associated with exposure to emissions from petrochemical facilities. “We are thrilled to partner with BCMAC to equip residents living near a large petrochemical facility with the information they need to understand their local air quality and take action to protect their health,” said Alison L. Steele, Executive Director of the Environmental Health Project.
BCMAC will also partner with the Department of Environmental & Occupational Health at the University of Pittsburgh School of Public Health to help plan and implement portions of the project pertaining to assessing biological and health-related endpoints of potential air pollutant exposure. James Fabisiak, PhD, Director of the School of Public Health’s Center for Healthy Environments and Communities said, “We look forward to working with BCMAC in their commitment to elevating environmental and public health in Beaver County using a genuine community-engaged approach.”
Physicians for Social Responsibility Pennsylvania (PSR PA) will join the project to provide needed education and resources to people and their healthcare providers about the health impacts of exposure to environmental pollutants. “Unfortunately, bad actors like the cracker plant continue to hold whole communities hostage to toxic emissions,” said Tonyehn Verkitus, Executive Director of PSR PA.
Three Rivers Waterkeeper, in partnership with BCMAC, was awarded $135,417.84 to increase waterway monitoring, expand watershed education, conduct monthly on-the-water baseline and location-focused water quality sampling, train community members to identify pollution sources, and enact a crucial expansion of Three Rivers Waterkeeper’s conservation program by establishing an early detection program. ”We want to note that these funds are from the Shell Cracker Plant’s numerous Clean Air Act violations,” said Heather Hulton VanTassel, Executive Director of Three Rivers Waterkeeper. She continued, “These funds will help us safeguard the source drinking water of the Ohio River and its tributaries.”
The Beaver County Environmental Mitigation Community Fund was created as part of a May 2023 consent order and agreement (COA) signed between DEP and Shell Chemical Appalachia LLC. Under the agreement with Shell, the Shapiro Administration secured nearly $10 million for DEP and the local community – including $5 million for projects to benefit Pennsylvanians living in Beaver County. Shell formally acknowledged that the company exceeded total emission limitations for air contaminants and agreed to make repairs to reduce future exceedances. The 21 projects, totaling $4,755,353.60, will exhaust the Environmental Mitigation Community Fund, one of the largest such funds in Pennsylvania history. As trustees of the fund, The Pittsburgh Foundation Board of Directors will give final approval and disperse the funds in the coming weeks.
Since the COA was signed in May 2024, Shell Chemical Appalachia has submitted 27 malfunction reports, received 4 notices of violation for Air Quality and 1 notice of violation for Water Quality. It is unclear if another COA will be proposed.

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