Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals Virtual Community Meeting November 16, 2021
Watch the video from November 16.
Company: SHELL AUDIO
Conference Title: Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals Project Virtual Community Meeting
Conference ID: 3354323
Moderator: Shannon Debes
Date: November 16, 2021
Shannon Debes: Good evening and welcome to our second virtual community meeting. We’re so glad that you can join us online or by phone this evening. I’m Shannon Debes, Community Liaison Officer for the Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals Project and Shell Polymers Monaca as we’ll be known once the site is operational.
During the next hour, you will be hearing from our General Manager, Bill Watson, who will be providing an overview of the site and some current activities in progress, along with Production Unit Manager Scott Thompson, who will take a look at commissioning and startup activities.
Our Environmental Manager Kim Kaal will provide an environmental update. And HSSE and Logistics Manager for North America Chris Jackson will discuss our logistics and what you may see and hear from site related to those activities.
Following Chris’ presentation, we’ll use the remainder of our time to answer your questions. And those questions you answer in - or enter in Menti and that we don’t have a chance to get to answer during the course of the presentation, we actually will answer on our website under our Q&A section, and we’ll show you at the end of the presentation how you can navigate to that section on our Web site.
And all of that information will be shared with you at the end, so no worries on taking down our contact information. First, much in keeping with our practices onsite, we’d like to share a safety moment with you.
We ask you to please refrain from participating while driving, even if you have a headset or a hands-free phone, those can still be distracting. We will have a recording available in time. And so, if your best opportunity is to watch the recording, you’ll still be able to ask questions from watching that recording.
If you’re in your home or in other location, please ensure you can still hear your fire alarm, know where your emergency exits are, and be in a position to be able to provide first aid to yourself or to others if needed during the course of the call.
We also ask that you please keep your microphones on-mute and know that at any time, you are able to submit questions by typing them into the chat box. And with that, I will turn the meeting over to our General Manager Bill Watson. Bill?
Bill Watson: Hey, thank you, Shannon. And again, my name is Bill Watson, and I’m the General Manager of Shell Polymers Monaca, and I want to thank you, all, for joining this evening.
I’m going to start by just providing you a brief overview of our site. So, Shannon, if you could go to the next slide. So, this is an aerial view of our site. And I’m going to start with kind of the top left-hand corner of your screen and just talk about our water - raw water treatment plants.
So, we take water from the Ohio River here. We clarify it and we filter it and then we pump it up the hill to our cogeneration unit, which is kind of in the middle of the screen there, Shannon got the - her cursor on it.
There, we take that water and we create steam and electricity. And we use the steam and electricity to power our plant as well as we also export some of that electricity to the grid. So, that will power our ethane cracking unit, which is just to your left then on the screen where we take ethane via pipeline, we crack it to turn it into ethylene, which is then sent to one of our three polyethylene units, which are - now Shannon is showing you where they’re at on the - on the plot as well.
And there, we make a variety of polyethylene products and it comes out as a - as a pellet, which we then ship to our customers either by railcar. You could see the rail facilities on your screen there to the right, or by truck.
And so, that’s kind of a brief overview of the operating plant. And then we have a number of our buildings then toward the south end of the plant, toward the bottom of your screen. We’ve got our administration building there, our maintenance building and warehouse, our Fire and Medical Building and then also our Innovation Center. That just gives you a brief overview of our site.
So, if we go to the next slide, Shannon, we can talk a bit about construction progress and an update there. So, we’re approximately now 90% construction complete and we’ve started demobilizing our project craft down to around 6,900 construction professionals, and that’s down from our peak of over 8,000 earlier in the year. So, we’ll continue to demobilize as construction continues to finish up and our commissioning and startup activities really ramp up.
So, Shannon, if you go to the next slide, and this is a picture of our Cooling Water Tower. Now, as many of you are aware, we had an odor event originating from our site that occurred in late September, resulting in a maple syrup or a sweet like smell.
So, I just want to start off by saying, really, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused you. We have performed an investigation on the event and we’ve sent a report to the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection on the investigation, and the team confirmed the cause was due to passivation activities on the process Cooling Water Tower using a third-party chemical product called tolyltriazole or azole for short.
So, passivation is a process where we provide a protective coating on the metal in our cooling water system to reduce corrosion. So, the product is thought to have combined with sodium hypochlorite, which is bleach, which we use to treat the cooling water to minimize biological growth.
So, the cause is believed to be due to addition of the bleach at a higher than expected rate, and our positive displacement pump in the field was pumping at a higher setting than what was shown on our control board.
So, the team has implemented several interim controls to ensure our bleach addition rate is maintained within specification until we implement a permanent solution, which is going to be to replace the tolyltriazole with the chemical that will not produce odors when combined with bleach while also though remaining effective and performing passivation activities.
So, this event, though it didn’t cause any harm to the environment or to our neighbors, it may very well have caused harm to our reputation and may have eroded some of the trust we built up with our key stakeholders, including yourself. So, again, we apologize for any inconvenience this may have caused.
So, also, within the next few weeks, we plan to place a large white tarp over our Cooling Water Tower to preserve the equipment following performance of our passivation activities. So, in essence, it’s a winter hibernation activity for us. Now, this has nothing to do with the odor matter, but it’s going to help preserve our cooling water system until we’re ready to put it under load early next year.
So, if we go to the next slide, Shannon, now, I already mentioned construction is approximately 90% complete, and we’ve achieved several key milestones since our last virtual community meeting in May.
Now, one of those is the completion of the Falcon Ethane Pipeline that you see in the picture here that will supply ethane to our site. And the pipeline actually completed its first fill of ethane last month. So, we haven’t yet brought ethane onto our site, but it’s now ready for us to use it when we need it.
So, if we go to the next slide, another milestone that we achieved was handover of our Rail Maintenance Building where we’ll perform our rail maintenance activities on rail cars. And if you go to the next slide, you’ll see our Rail Wash Building where we’ll clean our incoming polyethylene cars before we load them. Now, Chris Jackson will be providing you more details on our site logistics later in the meeting.
If we go to the next slide, Shannon, another key milestone achieved since we spoke last in May was commissioning and startup of our Cogen facility where we’re going to produce steam and electricity, as I mentioned to the site, as well as export electricity to the grid.
And we’ve also completed the steam blows within the Cogen unit, which we talked about last time in May. We’ve now expanded those into our Ethane Cracking Unit. And later, we’ll move into our Polyethylene Units. Now, the white vapor you see on the screen there coming from our Cogen is steam, which again is water vapor like what comes out of your tea kettles at home.
So, now, I’m going to show you a video about something that we’re really proud of in our work to end plastic waste and really move to a circular economy. And it really highlights some of the important work we’ve done around recycled plastic to asphalt. And so, Shannon, let’s go ahead and go to the next slide and roll the tape.
Helmut Brenner: Plastics are a really phenomenal material. They’re super light, they’re super strong, they allow us to do more with less. They really enable the modern lifestyle that we enjoy. However, the one thing that hasn’t been figured out about plastics is their end of life.
What do we do with these materials when they’re no longer needed or no longer wanted for their primary purpose? We’re pursuing a new circular economy initiative at our Pennsylvania Chemicals facility.
The initiative involves the use of a new technology that utilizes plastic wastes to develop a special road additive that both strengthens and extends the life of traditional road surfaces made from asphalt.
Larry Dietrich: On the Pennsylvania Chemicals site, six miles of roads will be paved with this polymer modifier. We will have diverted from landfill the equivalent of 3 million plastic grocery bags.
Jodie Morgan: This is a really important initiative. This is the largest commercial use of plastics in asphalt anywhere in North America.
Steven Wu This is the first time that Shell has ever been looking to use this material. We need to come up with a comprehensive qualification program to demonstrate the durability of this material, including lab testing and also field tests.
When we got our lab test results, we realized the rutting resistance performance is enhanced, but we have some uncertainty about a crack resistance, then we decided to do this field test.
Helmut Brenner: So, we actually took this material and we laid two strips on it. We laid one strip of the GreenMantra material next to one strip of conventional asphalt to compare their performance side by side.
So, we saw how it actually performed during the heavy winter months in Pennsylvania, subject to construction vehicle crossing and lots of wear and tear. And we determined that it performed as good, if not better than the conventional material which was laid down next to it.
Christy Sapp: When we look at what Shell ((inaudible)) are doing here, it’s really taking this innovative new technology and trialing it and putting it out there for the rest of the world to see how it works and working together to validate this.
Helmut Brenner: But the idea is that one day, asphalt roads and surfaces all over the world could utilize this technology.
Larry Dietrich: The impact that it could potentially make on plastic going into landfills is absolutely massive.
Jodie Morgan: When you think about asphalt and the fact that it’s used all over the world and roads, and you think about plastic that’s available anywhere in the world in its post-use form, it emphasizes the fact that this is not only scalable, but it is a good solution for society.
Dan Ganoe: This is just the start, then it’s early stages, there’s a long way to go with this technology and this process, but we have to start somewhere in order to change.
Bill Watson: Thanks, Shannon. So, as I mentioned, this is a concept we’re really passionate about. And going forward, we’ve been working with the Pennsylvania Department of Transportation to expand it beyond what we’ve achieved onsite.
So, you think about the ability to recycle the equivalent of 3 million plastic grocery bags just for the roads and parking lots of this plant, just imagine how much plastic we could recycle into the miles of highway and roads that we use every day. So, we’ll also have this video on our Facebook page if you’d like to view it again or share it.
But I want to provide you a people update. And I mentioned last time we’ve hired the majority of the Shell staff who are going to run our facility. We’re also currently ramping up personnel for several of our contract partners who will support us through commissioning and startup and into day-to-day operations.
And one of those contractors is PSC and they’ll handle the majority of our logistics and our lab operations onsite. So, the picture you see here is our first hiring class of PSC operators in October, and we expect another hiring class that’s going to occur early next year.
If we go to the next slide, Shannon, so the safety of our site personnel or contract personnel in the community will continue to be our top priority. And from a COVID perspective, we continue to maintain our site controls, and those include the use of masks while indoors or while riding in vehicles with others, social distancing, minimizing the number of people at lunch tables in our construction area, contact tracings, we still have our COVID testing lab onsite to really minimize any spread onsite as well as ongoing vaccination clinics, which will continue through the end of the year. That just names a few of our controls. And we’ll also continue to evaluate the impacts of the presidential orders on vaccines and testing mandates going forward.
So, let’s go to the next slide, Shannon. Now, I mentioned earlier the successful completion of the steam blows in our Cogen area. And we’re actively now progressing steam blows in our ethane cracking unit.
The steam blows will continue off and on for several more weeks as we complete the program. Now, part of our commitment to you is that we’re going to share upcoming activities as we continue into our commissioning and startup.
And the next major activity that you’re going to see or hear is flaring, which we don’t expect to take place until early next year. Now, flaring is a normal part of our commissioning and startup. It’s also a key safety and environmental process. And now, I’m going to hand over to Scott Thompson, our Production Unit Manager for our ethane cracking unit to talk to you about flaring in more detail. So, Scott, I will hand over to you.
Scott Thompson: Yes, thanks, Bill, I appreciate that. And as Bill said, my name is Scott Thompson. I’m the Production Unit Manager for the Ethane Cracking Unit. And this is one of the four operating areas that we have on our site.
As Bill mentioned, within the next few months, we’ll be commissioning our flare system. So, we wanted to share a bit of detail with respect to what a flare is and what we can expect in the future.
So, Shannon, if you can go to the next slide. So, what is flaring? As Bill mentioned, a flare is an important environmental control and safety device used in refineries and petrochemical processing plants.
They are utilized as a safe way to burn hydrocarbon gases as an alternative to releasing the gases directly into the atmosphere. This protects our community and our employees from exposure to those flammable gases.
Our flares are designed to achieve a minimum of 98% combustion efficiency, which is really just the burning efficiency, and the combustion products are carbon dioxide and water vapor. The process of burning these gases is similar to what happens when you burn propane on the gas grill for cooking, or natural gas is burned on the stove.
The use of flares is minimized to the extent possible, and we have a formalized flare minimization plan. This is the right answer for the business, both environmentally and from a production perspective.
Another way to look at it is that if we’re flaring, those are molecules that we are not converting to our final products. Flares are utilized during startup and shutdown, and also for unplanned operational interruptions.
In order to try and explain an example of an operational interruption, I’ll make a connection to a hot water heater, which is something that many of us probably have in our homes, and there’s a picture of one on the top right-hand side of the screen.
These heaters have a safety valve on them that is designed to relieve pressure in the case that too much pressure builds up in the heater. It then relieves that pressure by opening the valve and allowing the hot water and steam to be routed to a drain.
The release of this pressure is what keeps us safe in our homes. And since it’s only water, it can be safely routed to a drain. At our plants, we have similar valves that are also designed to keep us safe and relieve pressure if it gets too high.
However, not all of our systems contain just water. And so, therefore we have hydrocarbon that we don’t want to release directly the atmosphere and we must safely and environmentally responsibly burn it in our flares.
Shannon, next slide, please. So, this is that same picture that Bill showed earlier that is an overview of our sites. And what I’ve done is I’ve circled or boxed in the high pressure and low pressure flare systems.
So, we have two different flare systems on our site. One is the high pressure flare system, which is towards the western part of our site. And then on the eastern part of our site is the low pressure flare system. And I’ll get into more detail about what those are.
Shannon, next slide please. We’ll start with our low pressure system. And this is a ground flare system. And to many, the shielding as part of this design makes it a bit like - look like stadium bleachers from the outside.
But inside the shielding, and what you can see on the picture on the right, are three headers with multiple pilots and burners. This flare is designed to burn gas streams from some of our lower pressure process systems. And these flows are not continuous and will only occur during certain operational conditions.
Shannon, can you go to the next slide, please? So, the picture on the left shows an overview of our high pressure flare system. It contains an elevated flare and then two ground flares, and I’ll get into a bit about both of them.
The ground flares that you see on the left are those metallic cylinders that Shannon is pointing to on the screen. The initial flow of gas from the high pressure system is routed to those ground flares.
And our intent is to operate with both of those in service to the extent possible, which minimizes the need for flow of gas to the elevated flare. There are multiple benefits of having these ground flares at our plant in Monaca.
First is that it increases the smokeless capacity of our site’s flare system. And this is due to the multiple stages that are part of the design that enable high combustion efficiency at varied flow rates.
The second advantage of the ground flares is that they have the shielding around them that you can see on the screen. These shields significantly reduce the light and heat and sounds that come from the flaring from those two devices.
The majority of time during our commissioning and startup of the plants, we intend to use and flare through those two ground flares, and we expect the flow rates to be such that we can do that.
However, when the capacity of the ground flares is reached, the system is designed to automatically route the additional flow to the elevated flare. And once our plant is fully operational, there are scenarios where unplanned operational interruptions could result in these higher flow rates to the high pressure system.
So, with respect to the elevated flare that Shannon is pointing to now, it’s a structure that’s 370 feet tall. And the picture on the right is actually looking at the top of the flare stack, and we call that the flare tip.
The reason for the height is to ensure that the flame does not pose a safety concern for those that are working at grade near the elevated flare. As you can imagine, the flame that can - that is put out from that elevated flare can put out quite a bit of radiant heat, and there’s a need to ensure that workers at the plant are not exposed to unsafe temperatures as a result.
Shannon, can you go to the next slide, please? So, this is where I really want to focus in on what can you see and what can you hear. And what you’re seeing on the screen right now are just three examples of flares that are in the industry. They’re not pictures of our flares in Monaca, but they do illustrate a few things that I’ll touch on.
So, the first is that the flares have pilots. These are small flames that are always present to ensure that when gases are sent to the flare that they will burn, they will combust. They typically cannot be seen, but we have instrumentation to confirm that they’re lit at all times.
When we’re not sending gases to the elevated flare, it is possible to see a small plume of steam coming from the elevated flare tip. And this is what’s shown on the picture on the left. This is steam, which is just water vapor, and it’s not smoke.
We use steam to help support creating conditions for complete combustion, and the steam is part of our elevated flare system. When gases are being sent to the flare, a flame will be visible at the top of the flare stack, and that’s represented by the middle picture in the picture on the right. The size of the flare and the flame will vary based on the flow rate and gas to the flare.
Now, unfortunately, there are conditions that could create black smoke to be emitted from the flare. This is a sign of incomplete combustion, and actions are taken by our operations team to the extent possible to stop the flare from smoking.
This includes ensuring the steam flow is optimized and/or taking actions to reduce the flow rate of gas to the flare. Our plant has automation as part of its design in response to certain scenarios that caused significant flaring that will immediately begin to reduce feed to the plants and thus reduce flaring.
With respect to what you can hear, the flares do produce a noise that can be described as similar to thunder. This is due to the turbulent mixing of the steam, air and gases as they exit the flare tip. As the amount of flow to the flare increases, the noise increases as well.
Now, we certainly understand that both the light and sound from this flare have the potential to impact our community, and I’ve already mentioned how important it is for us to minimize the use of this flare when possible during our operation. However, there are conditions where the use of this flare is required to keep our operation safe.
Shannon, can you go to the next slide, please? So, here’s a couple pictures of our ground flares, and I’d already shown them on previous slides. But this actually on the right-hand side shows a bit of what the flames would look like inside of those flare devices as well.
Obviously, the pictures on the right are not from our plants in Monaca, they’re just general pictures from the industry, but again, something to be able to try to show - give you a bit of a feel for what it would look like.
So, the flames from the burners will be mostly shielded from both of these flares, a bit more on the flares in the smaller pictures than the flares with the stadium seating, I like to call it, however, there is the shielding on both of them.
Because they’re not enclosed on the top, it is possible for the light from those flares to reflect upwards and then potentially depending on cloud cover or whatever it can be visible to folks from outside of our fenceline.
As far as what can you hear from these flares, the shielding does reduce the sound that leaves the fenceline from these flares, and we certainly expect it to be much less than the sounds that we would expect from our elevated flare.
With respect to commissioning timing, we may begin the first activities toward the end of this year and early next year. The initial activity should have reduced visibility outside of our fenceline.
The operational activities that could result in more significant flaring will likely not occur until later into 2022, and we’ll be sure to proactively communicate those as possible when we get closer.
So, in summary, flares are a critical part of what makes our facility safe to operate. It allows for safe and environmentally responsible combustion of gases as an alternative to releasing the gases directly into the atmosphere.
The use of the flares is minimized to the extent possible, both the volume and the duration. But they are required for safe operation during startup/shutdown for maintenance, and also for unplanned operational interruptions.
When flaring is required during the initial site commissioning and startup operations, our intent is to route as much as possible through the ground flares to minimize the impact that can be seen and heard outside of our fenceline.
So, with that, I’d like to thank you for taking the time to join today. And I’ll turn the presentation over to Kim Kaal for an environmental update.
Kim Kaal: Hi, everybody. I am Kim Kaal, the Environmental Manager at Shell Polymers. First, I want you to know that we have built our plant and designed it with the best available technology to minimize emissions. We permitted our plant working with state and federal agencies, incorporating some of the most restrictive regulatory requirements in the nation.
Let’s talk a little bit about flaring from an environmental perspective. Our flares are a control device. They’re used to combust volatile organic compounds during startup/shutdown, and during unforeseeable events.
Processed gases are routed to the flares for combustion or incineration. High pressure flares control vapor streams from polyethylene production. There are two enclosed ground flares and one emergency elevated flare.
Low pressure flares control vents streams from polyethylene from the loading racks and also from the storage tanks. All streams are routed to the flares for the purpose of reducing plant emissions.
We also have a flare minimization plan. It was reviewed by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. It references procedures for startup and also corrective actions for unforeseeable events. Our flares are also at least 98% efficient, and they’re also continuously monitored.
A component of our flares is the monitoring program. Monitoring ensures that we have optimal amounts of air, gas, and steam and that they’re combusted efficiently. Each flare has multiple pilot lights to ensure there’s a flame to destruct hydrocarbons.
Each flare also has an inline analyzer or gas chromatograph to measure the content of volatile organic compounds, methane, carbon, and sulfur. Each flare also has a flow meter to measure vent gas and supplemental natural gas flow. These data are continuous and they provide the basis for emission calculations.
Each flare also has a video camera and recording system for monitoring on a full-time basis. We’ve also incorporated shift monitoring for visible emission. Each flare uses the combination of a gas chromatograph, flow meter, and engineering calculations to assure a sufficient heating value for the destruction of vent gas.
Meeting the minimum heating value means more destruction efficiency. The tip velocity is monitored using a gas chromatograph and a flow meter. We included our flare emissions and modeling for health risks and ambient air standards used by the state and Environmental Protection Agency for the region.
Next slide, please. An update, our air plan approvals were renewed this October by the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection. This allows us to continue to operate and start our sources.
The requirements of the plan approvals are in effect now through construction and into startup. A 180 days after normal operations, we will commence our application for Title V operating permit.
Stack testing is also set to commence. Stack testing provides the basis for our emission factors for volatile organic compounds, ammonia, particulates, and hazardous air pollutants.
So far, the sources that we’ve started include our combustion turbines, cooling water towers, our diesel-fired generators, various pumps, natural gas-fired emergency generators, and SF6 gas insulated switchgear. All controls are in place for the sources that have been started, and all sources have at least one control associated with them.
Next slide. CEMS or Continuous Emissions Monitoring Systems measure carbon monoxide and nitrogen oxides in both cogen and the furnaces. Our cogen CEMS are fully operational.
For fenceline monitoring, we have four continuous air monitors, 20 passive air monitoring locations at the fenceline in both the upwind and downwind locations.
There is also a meteorological station. Our fenceline monitoring collects samples for volatile organic compounds. Data will be collected both continuously, and samples are also analyzed by a third party on a two-week basis.
Reports will be provided on our website once we’re in full operation. Our leak detection and repair program is one of the most restrictive in the US. We monitor more components than are required in the Gulf Coast, for example. An example of those would be our Cogen, as well as our natural gas line.
Initially, we monitor at more frequent intervals and initiate repair at lower standards than even the Environmental Protection Agency requires. During the first year, we fully expect to monitor approximately 180,000 locations.
Volatile organic compounds are also monitored with a photoionization detector and also using forward-looking infrared cameras will be used to detect leaks from components, such as valves, flanges, seals, pressure relief devices, and connectors.
Where you see the stars are some of the main locations where stack testing will occur. Stack testing will occur at the furnaces, our cogens, our thermal oxidizers, pellet dryers, and catalyst activation vents. Stack testing assures our emissions. It provides emission factors for our quarterly reports and annual inventories. It also helps us establish our minimum control efficiencies. It also allows us to demonstrate compliance with our permit limits.
Planning documents for stack testing were reviewed and approved by both the Pennsylvania Department of Environmental Protection, as well as the Environmental Protection Agency. During this event, PA DEP will be present to witness the testing, as well as be performing an inspection of the sources that we have started.
Stack testing is a one-time event repeated three times at startup taking the average of the three events, and then it’s repeated on a five-year basis thereafter. The tests are performed in compliance with Environmental Protection Agency methods, and we also monitor and report our emission data quarterly, as well as annually.
So where will sampling and testing occur? Our stack test locations, we have seven furnaces, three cogeneration units, two thermal oxidizers, five pellet dryer vents, two catalyst activation vents. The vents are equipped with filters.
Stack testing will also be used to certify our continuous emission monitors. Sample points comply with both EPA and PA DEP recommended methods. Permanent or temporary structures will be used by our contractor to safely access the test ports.
Other sampling includes our cooling water towers are also monitored for hydrocarbons using an online analyzer, as well total dissolved solid samples are also collected, analyzed by a third party to determine particulates. And our polyethylene pellets are tested for volatile organic compounds and analyzed by an offsite laboratory.
Switching gears a bit to our polyethylene management program, first, it takes all of us working together to manage our environmental performance. It can’t be done by the environmental team alone, that’s for sure. Our polyethylene management program is multi-tiered. First, our corporate policy mandates environmental protection and also promoting a culture where all employees share our HSSE commitments.
Second, we have a site policy providing site-specific guidance on polyethylene management to all personnel on our site. And third, we are committed to participate in the industry program, which is American Chemistry Council’s Operation Clean Sweep. Our goal is zero pellet loss. We know if we don’t contain our product, we’re not being good neighbors.
Let’s take a little deeper dive into how the program works. First, it starts at the leadership level, setting our culture and commitment to manage polyethylene responsibly and implement Operation Clean Sweep.
Training is provided to educate people about program requirements. The trainings are designed to educate people and also raise awareness of the role people play in managing polyethylene on our site. Training is given to both site personnel, as well as contractors.
Closer to operations, we’ll all be taking the pledge, which allows us to uniformly implement the Operation Clean Sweep program. This includes keeping our worksite clean from polyethylene. To us, polyethylene is a valuable commodity, and cleaning it up means we can resell it. Our polyethylene has value to us and our customers. Cleaning it up is not only the right thing to do, it also adds value to our bottom line.
Our site policy is written to make all personnel aware of our P.E. management program requirements. Our Goal Zero Responsible and Operator Team meets monthly to discuss challenges and opportunities both in a multi-disciplined environment.
Operations has developed procedures to ensure polyethylene is managed responsibly onsite. Surveillance rounds will look for lost polyethylene during each operator shift. And if polyethylene is found, it will be contained and cleaned up.
Maintenance plans have also been developed to maintain our equipment. Site equipment for polyethylene management is identified as high priority or we call it environmental compliance equipment. Some examples of environmental compliance equipment include recovery screens, pellet/water separators, trenches, and sumps. This equipment is subject to maintenance planning to ensure the equipment operates as designed.
Our emergency response plans also incorporate spill cleanup and recovery. Shell Polymers has a full-time emergency response team onsite. Likewise, we also have several different contractors who have been hired to be involved with the polyethylene management program as well.
One is with pellet recovery and resale. Another is associated with polyethylene logistics. And another one is associated specifically with spill response. The most important aspect of our facility are the engineering controls we’ve designed and specifically built into it. Next slide please.
Let’s think of this in terms of a Hierarchy of Controls. The Hierarchy of Controls was developed by the National Institute of Occupational Safety and Health. At the highest level is Elimination. It’s the most effective level, which includes removal at the source so it can be reclaimed and sold to our customers. At the Substitution level, we keep polyethylene out of the environment by fully containing it.
Engineering controls have been built into our site. They allow us to fully isolate, contain and capture our pellets from end-to-end throughout the entire process. They also keep polyethylene away from the environment.
Finally, Administrative controls include changing the way people work and giving people information they need to perform their jobs. This includes training, policies, operational procedures, and giving and including maintenance plans.
I hope I’ve left you with a feeling that environment is very important to us at Shell Polymers. It’s imperative that we have excellent environmental compliance and we’re good neighbors in the community. Next, I’ll hand it over to Chris Jackson, our HSSE and Logistics Manager for North America.
Chris Jackson: Thanks, Kim, really appreciate that overview. Again, I’m Chris Jackson. I’m currently the Health & Safety and Logistics Manager for North America, but prior to that, I was the Production Unit Manager for Logistics at our Shell Polymers Monaca site. So, what I’d like to do is just really give you an overview of what the logistics will be onsite and our neighboring areas, so we can move and begin this - our journey together.
And we’ll start with a high-level fly-over overview of the site. Now, what you’re looking at is approximately 27 miles of rail track onsite. And if you ever passed 360, you look to the right and the left, this is exactly what you’ll see currently under construction.
Now, what does that mean? Well, that is where we’re going to store our railcars when we bring them onsite to serve several purposes. So onsite here and in that 27 miles, we can store approximately 1,600 or so railcars. And we also, in McKees Rocks, we have an additional 10 miles of track in what we call a SIT yard.
Now you might be saying, what sits there? Well, SIT is an acronym for Storage in Transit, and that’s a rail lingo terminology that we commonly use. But basically, it just means it’s area allocated for storing railcars. So together - and there we have about 600 railcar spots, so together we can store approximately 2,200 cars within our control.
Now on our sites, what activities will we be doing? Well, on the 27 miles that you see on your screen now, we’ll be performing railcar switching activities. That means we, Shell and our contract partner that Bill mentioned earlier, will be moving railcars around onsite ourselves. It will be within our control. There will be some slight noises that you’ll hear that’s relevant to that. And those are - majority of those are for the safe operations onsite.
Now, we also have loading and unloading activities. So as Kim touched on the polyethylene we have onsite, we will be loading those into hopper railcars, and you’ll see those because they’re the - they’re the most prevalent type of railcar we have onsite. And then we have a variety of coproducts that are made from the ethane cracking process.
And we also have comonomers that we’re unloading to feed into our polyethylene manufacturing process. And also, on our site, we have a railcar maintenance facility, as well as a hopper railcar wash facility. Now these are - these - both of these buildings play key parts in managing our railcar operations. If we can move to the next slide.
Now Kim mentioned a voluntary OCS commitment. Now you may be asking yourself, well, how do we do that? Well, that’s what I want to highlight on this picture. Now, many think there are many things we have onsite that you can see and I’ll elaborate on, but there’s also some things that you can’t see. Well, I’ll also tell you about those.
So, what you see here is our truck loading silos, and the silos themselves are actually the silver cylinders or the stainless-steel cylinders in the middle. Those are the silos. That’s what stores the polyethylene that we’re using to load our high-quality polyethylene into our hopper trucks.
Now the trucks we use are not open bay or open to atmosphere, they’re in closed hopper trucks that are designed for polyethylene to ensure that the quality material we make arrives to our customer, and we don’t release any into the environment during transportation.
Now, there’s three structures you see on top. Those three structures are called elutriators. Now, we convey - we pneumatically convey polyethylene across the site from our production unit to our silos for loading.
Now to ensure that we don’t have any powder that may be created in the conveyance process, the elutriators pull a vacuum and they take any powder out of the system, all contained, and it puts it into a secondary containment that’s also used for shipping to our customers.
So, one of the things that Kim touched on that I want to really highlight is that all polyethylene in all forms has value to us. So, whether it’s in powder or pellet, it’s valuable to us. It’s just what category we ship it to our customers or sell it to our customers in. So, the powder form is not our desired state, so we ship it in the lowest category, which is considered as scrap.
Now, once we load these, the polyethylene into our trucks, the trucks are secured. They’re cleaned using a vacuum system, a hand vacuum system on top of the truck. And to ensure that there’s no polyethylene that may fall off in transportation, because we don’t want that, and they’re sealed to ensure that the containment stays and it can’t be tampered with en route to our customers.
Now, one other thing I want to highlight about this picture, in particular, is there are several pieces of equipment that you see. Well, to ensure that the equipment is performing properly, we also have what we have categorized as environmental rounds.
And these are rounds that our technicians make, and they ensure they use visual inspections, and they ensure that the - that the product - that the equipment is performing as designed, and that there’s - that we have advance notice of anything that may probably be headed in the wrong direction or that’s going to give us a problem, so we can catch it ahead of time.
Now around this area, one thing that we have is a local containment. And that’s if we clean off or we wash off or even if it’s rain that pushes any polyethylene on the ground, it’s going to be contained in a local drainage system that is not connected to any external waterway.
And how do we clean that out? Well, we have a vacuum truck that comes in, and it cleans out those drains, and it captures in containment that polyethylene that we clean out. Again, this becomes scrap, the lowest category, and we still sell it into the market as scrap value.
Now if we can move to the next slide. Now this is our rail loading silo. This is very similar to our truck loading silos except for this is how we load it into our railcars.
Now, what’s interesting about this is when we load our railcars, we have an enclosed contained system. So, as we’re loading, we’re capturing the vapors off the railcars and we’re circulating it back into the system. And this is all in a measure to prevent any escaped polyethylene outside of containment.
Now, what the things that I’ve been pointing out with the truck loading system and the rail loading system, these are all the controls we have. And I really want to highlight that we have engineering controls, we have operational controls, we have very intense training programs, and we have many mitigation plans. All of these were put in place so that we can establish the handrails that ensure our environmentally safe performance.
So, as you can see, we’ve integrated environmental controls in all aspects of this project, from design, to construction, to operations, to even how we respond when things don’t go as planned. All of these are applied to our truck and our rail loading applications.
Now with the rail, another control we have just with the truck it’s vacuum cleaned. It’s not washed off, it’s vacuum cleaned so that we can contain that product again, and again it would go into our scrap.
And the railcars, just like the truck, once the loading is completed, we inspect them, we close and secure them, and we seal them for transportation. And that inspection is key because we want to make sure that every railcar and every truck is safe once it leaves our site and into the community.
Now, if we - and one other thing that we do in both scenarios, all of our logistics operations, we look at it and we create a plan. This is how we want it to work. And then we say what if something happens that’s outside of our plant? How will we respond to it?
How will we mitigate what will happen? And we ensure that we have the right equipment for that mitigation, we have the right training of our people, and we have the right plan in place so people know if something happens outside of what we plan to occur in our operations, we know what to do.
Now, if we can move to the next slide. Now, this is an overview of the railcar cleaning - hopper cleaning building that I mentioned earlier, and you saw the interior of it in Bill’s opening slide.
Now, this building is very key for quality concern, as well as ensuring that we capture all of our residue product. So, every railcar that returns to our site from our customers, it goes every hopper railcar that we load polyethylene in goes through this building.
Now this building inside is divided into three stages. The first stage is a vacuum system. So, if there’s any product that our customer may have left in the car, we vacuum it off and it is re-captured, as I mentioned before, and it’s in that scrap category. And then it goes to a wash section where it’s cleaned and then to a dry section to where all the water used to wash is dry. And then it’s considered ready to load.
If we go to the next slide. Now, you may be as - you may ask yourself why Monaca, Pennsylvania. Well, this slide is to demonstrate that 70% of North American polyethylene demand is in a 700-mile radius of where we’re currently located. So, we are close to our customers. We’re close enough to where we can ship the volume of rail and have the flexibility of truck. This is really a strong - it really makes us a strong player in the market.
So just a little bit of commercial background to understand why we’re here, if we can go to the next slide. Now, this slide is just to give you a taste for the things you’ll see onsite. We’ll have the logistics operations where we’ll have our locomotive that this is the type of locomotive that’ll be moving our railcars around the site.
And then the middle picture, this is actually the hopper cars that will be loading our polyethylene, and so this is what you’ll see onsite and it’s very soon. And then the last one is just - is a 3D model diagram of our truck silos that we’ve already discussed. And below that is our - we call them our yard (muse). And these are the yard trucks we’ll be - we’ll use to shuttle trailers around the site. And we’ll have dedicated drivers onsite to manage the movement of those - of those trucks.
And one thing I forgot to point out, in the middle picture, there’s a little picture insert there and that shows what the top of those hopper cars look like. So, you can see for firsthand that they’re not open to atmosphere, they’re closed and they’re secured for transportation.
And if we can move to the last slide, and this is what I’d like to say our pride and joy. This is Hank the Tank. This is our very own first locomotive that has arrived to the site. And if you pass on 376 in the last few weeks, you’ve probably seen it out. And if you see it out again, feel free to give Hank a wave and tell him hello. He’s happy to be here. So, with that, I’m going to conclude and hand it back over to Shannon.
Shannon Debes: Thank you so much, Chris, and thank you to our presenters tonight. And thank you everyone for joining us. We want to make sure that we get to your questions so we’ll get right into it with the first question going to Bill Watson.
Bill, a question from the community about the passivation activities and the odors produced. This community member notes that they are wondering if their health was affected in any way by what transpired.
Bill Watson: Thanks, Shannon. And I appreciate the question as well, so, in our review, the concentration of the azole, this component that I mentioned using a maximum worst-case release rate was significantly below the level where someone would experience any health impacts based on the published data.
And I think there was - there was a question maybe about are we releasing the results of the investigation. We actually have put the outcome of that on a link on our Facebook page that you can access.
Shannon Debes: Thank you, Bill. And we will be sharing information about our Web site and how to navigate to that at the end of the meeting.
The next question is for Scott. How often will we be flaring as we start up and once operational? And what does kind of the startup shutdown cycle of flaring look like and will the community be notified as that happens?
Scott Thompson: Yes, sure. Thanks for the questions, Shannon. And so, during startup - commissioning and startup, there’s periods where the flaring will be intermittent, so there will be times when it starts and then times when it stops, and then also periods where it is continuous, especially as we get into the backend of startup and we’re working towards on-spec production.
With - and, of course, as I mentioned before, the majority of that flaring should be in our ground flares to minimize the impact to the community. Once we’re fairly fully operational, I mentioned the startups, the shutdowns, the unplanned events.
And until we get up and running, we can’t commit to how many. It will be heavily dictated on overall reliability and how the plant runs as we get it online. So, our goal is to be as reliable as possible and then, therefore, minimize the amount of flaring possible. But until we get to that point, we won’t know.
So - but I can’t tell you that my whole team and our team is committed to that reliability, and then thus committed to reducing our flaring events. And, of course, as we mentioned before, there are times where we have to use those flare events for those flares in order to operate safely, keep our employees safe and our community safe. Thanks, Shannon.
Shannon Debes: OK. Thank you, Scott. The next question we have is for Kim. The question is around Operation Clean Sweep, and Chris provided a lot of detail about clean-up of pellets onsite. There’s a question about what is permitted in terms of our water permits when it comes to plastic pellets. Can you share a little bit about that?
Kim Kaal: Yes, happy to and I’m glad you asked that question. So, our water permit specifically excludes us from having any discharges. And what it - what it says is that the permitee - that would be us - our site is not - may not discharge floating solids, scum, sheen or other substances that could result in these deposits in our receiving water. So, we are precluded from having any type of polyethylene discharge via our water permit.
Shannon Debes: OK. Thank you, Kim. And the next question is for Chris. The question is, is Hank the Tank electric? And if not, why?
Chris Jackson: That’s a good question. So, Hank the Tank is not electric. And I’m sure who - the person who asked that question, they may be familiar with the new electric locomotives that Wabtec has - have built and designed in - actually, in Erie, Pennsylvania.
And we have had conversations with them. And long story short, the reason why is because the design is only for long haul transportation, and that’s by the larger Class 1 railroads like CSX and Norfolk Southern.
But we have been very eager and working with Wabtec in trying to get as soon as possible the onsite smaller locomotives in electrical. We are very eager to have that. So hopefully, in the near future when technology, Wabtec or some other of the producers can develop one for our own site we’ll be the first in line.
Shannon Debes: All right. Thank you, Chris, and thank you for letting us know what that could potentially look like in the future.
And I know we have a number of questions from the community and we, unfortunately, are running low on time here, but we will get to all of your questions. So, what we’re going to do is take all of the questions that you’ve asked. There are some common themes among some of them.
There are some that are quite unique. We’re going to make sure we answer all of those on our website you can review them. And to give you a sense of what that looks like, let me share with you our contact information. Our website is at the bottom of the page, www.shell.us/poly-e.
When you go to that website, you’ll see a question-and-answer section that’s listed there. And many of those questions that you see in the Q&As actually came from you during our last meeting. So hopefully, you recognize some of the questions that you asked before and you see the answers posted there. We’re going to do that very same thing this time. But, of course, we are available at the number that you see there, 1-844-776-5581.
And I know there was a question about where to call. If you ever see something in the community and want to let us know, that’s the number to call, 1-844-776-5581. And we can also be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org and through Facebook Messenger at Shell Pennsylvania Chemicals.
So, in the near future, this entire presentation will also be made available online if you’d like to go back and take a look at the recording and we’ll notify you via Facebook when it’s ready to view on our website.
So, feel free to reach us at that contact information. We are so glad that you took the time out of your busy evenings to join us. And we look forward to answering your questions and continuing the dialogue. Thank you for joining us tonight.