- Associated Press - Tuesday, August 26, 2014

PARKERSBURG, W.Va. (AP) - State regulators and a company are negotiating an agreement to remediate any environmental issues at the site of a proposed ethane cracker plant in Wood County, the West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection said.

Under the agreement, Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise LLC, or ASCENT, and the DEP will identify risks to human health and ecology associated with the 363-acre site’s existing and future uses. They also will establish standards for remediation and ensure that these standards are maintained at the site, the environmental agency said.

ASCENT owns about 194 acres that mostly is undeveloped and is expected to acquire the other tract from SABIC Innovative Plastics, in November 2015, the agency said. SABIC’s tract has changed owners several times since it was developed for plastics production by Marbon Chemical Company in 1955.

ASCENT is studying the feasibility of building an ethane cracker plant on the site, along with three polyethylene plants and associated infrastructure. The company applied for an air quality permit for the facilities earlier this year.

Cracker plants crack or convert ethane into ethylene, a widely used chemical compound. Ethane is a byproduct of natural gas drilling.

Antero Resources has said it will be the anchor ethane supplier for the plant. In March, Antero announced an agreement to provide 30,000 barrels of ethane a day to the plant, if it is built.

ASCENT’s parent, Brazilian petrochemical giant Odebrecht, announced the project last fall. Odebrecht would lead the project’s investment and financing, along with water and utility operations. Plastics maker Braskem S.A. of Brazil would handle petrochemical-related activities.

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