Proposed Cracker Plant has Kanwaha Valley Impact

KANAWHA COUNTY, W.Va. (WSAZ) -- Chemical experts in the Kanawha Valley say the proposed cracker plant in Wood County will have long term benefits in our region.

Take a look around and you'll most likely see something that contains a chemical produced in a cracker plant. "Ethylene is the largest volume chemical produced in the world so everything around you, you can almost make from ethylene," explains Chemical Alliance Zone's Executive Director, Kevin DiGregorio, Ph. D.

The clothes you're wearing, the car you drive, even your cell phone is made with ethylene. It's a major chemical industry that is one step closer to West Virginia. "Everyone in this state, and for that matter, the whole region will benefit," says Kanawha County Commission President, Kent Carper. "The downstream activity may almost be as important as where the site is."

In fact, we're only about 90 miles away from the prospected site of the new cracker plant in Wood County. "That's nothing when it comes to transferring natural gas and byproducts, especially when it's been processed by the cracker."

Byproducts like ethylene oxide are chemicals local experts say are in high demand in our region. "You have Bayer Material Science and DOW Chemical especially that use a lot of ethylene oxide and so it would be really good if we could get someone who builds a cracker to also make ethylene oxide," DiGregorio explains.

It's a plan to keep and increase jobs in a state where the other major industry, coal, is taking a major hit. "They could have piped this gas to the eastern seaboard or somewhere else. They picked this state because we have an excellent workforce," Carper adds.

Chemical experts say we're still about four years away from seeing a direct impact when it comes to the chemical side. With the construction phase, an economic impact will begin as soon as ground breaks.

Click on the link to the right to see more on the announcement of the possible cracker plant in Wood County.

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