Sorry, wrong number: Shell wants feedback, but no one is answering


By Rachel Martin |

PITTSBURGH — Shell Chemicals says it’s listening to Pennsylvanians’ thoughts and concerns about a proposed new plant in Beaver County.

But no matter how hard the company listens, it might have trouble hearing.

As previously reported, Shell is moving forward with plans to build a so-called “cracker plant” in western Pennsylvania, which would turn a by-product of natural gas into a form of plastic.

The company has hosted a few community meetings to solicit feedback and answer questions about the plant, which promises to bring thousands of jobs to the area, but it’s also raised environmental concerns.

Shell hosted a pair of meetings this past Thursday, in Midland, Pa. The morning meeting drew about 200 attendees; the evening meeting around 50.

LISTENING MISS: The “We’re Listening” business card Shell Chemicals is distributing at community meetings lists a wrong number.

Attendees were encouraged to call or email with any further questions.

In a fine bit of irony, however, the business card available at the most recent meeting — together with a feedback form — proclaims “We’re Listening” at the top, yet has a wrong telephone number listed.

Brochures about the project that also were available at the meeting had a different-by-one-digit number, however. Callers are sent to a voicemail message for the project. No human could be reached at either this number or the main media number for the first three calls.

A call was returned on Tuesday.

Michael Marr, spokesman for Shell Chemicals, told the misprint was “an inadvertent and unfortunate error that we regret,” though he was grateful to have the issue brought to his attention.

“We will take the cards that are in error out of circulation and print new cards before our next engagement with the public,” he said.

The plant, which ultimately would employ 400 and need up to 10,000 people during construction, would reuse an old industrial site in Beaver County. The cracker plant converts ethylene into polyethylene pellets, which are used to manufacture a variety of plastic goods and materials.

Although Shell recently announced its decision to purchase the Horsehead industrial property, it has not yet made a final decision about whether it will build the plant there. And once a decision is made, it could still be four years, from groundbreaking to operation.

The pen passed out at the meeting, at least, was glitch-less, bearing only the well-known corporate logo.