By CASEY JUNKINS
The Intelligencer/Wheeling News-Register
DILLES BOTTOM, Ohio — More than $17 million worth of funds derived from Ohio liquor sales are being used to remediate the potential PTT Global Chemical ethane cracker site in Belmont County, officials with JobsOhio said.
Today, JobsOhio officials announced a $14 million grant to FirstEnergy Corp. to defray the company’s costs of demolishing and removing the former R.E. Burger Plant this year. This is in addition to the more than $3 million that JobsOhio granted the owners of the adjacent Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co. property to remediate that portion of the potential petrochemical plant land last year.
With the site now cleared for development, state and local officials are still waiting for Thailand-based PTT to make a final decision on whether to build the multi-billion-dollar petrochemical complex along the Ohio River.
“This is a critical step. We are providing $14 million to FirstEnergy to help offset the cost of demolition and remediation of the site,” JobsOhio Senior Adviser David Mustine said. “That demolition and cleanup was vital. They are in the final stages of completing the remediation.”
In July, FirstEnergy Corp. officials demolished the 854-foot-tall smoke stack at the former Burger plant. The site is now clear to the point there is little evidence such a plant sat there just months ago.
In September 2015, Ohio Gov. John Kasich joined PTT President and CEO Supattanapong Punmeechaow at the Statehouse in Columbus to confirm plans to spend at least $100 million for engineering and design plans for the plant, which some estimate would cost about $5.7 billion to complete.
JobsOhio is the private economic development corporation Kasich and Republican legislators created in 2011. JobsOhio derives its funds from the sale of spirituous liquor in the Buckeye State.
Jobs Ohio officials continue working with PTT leaders to facilitate the company’s final decision. If PTT proceeds with the project, the company would purchase the land from FirstEnergy and Ohio-West Virginia Excavating Co.
“Right now, PTTGC America is evaluating the front-end design and engineering plans,”Mustine said. “It is in their hands.”
Royal Dutch Shell is already building its giant ethane cracker north of Pittsburgh, but the majority of industry leaders believe there is so much ethane in the Marcellus and Utica shale region that it can both support multiple new cracker plants and provide feedstock to other established plants around the globe.
“If we are successful in this, it will benefit the entire region,” Mustine said of landing the PTT Global ethane cracker.
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