Shell’s Falcon Ethane Pipeline System, designed to carry ethane to the Shell ethane “cracker” in Beaver County for plastic production, has been under investigation by federal and state agencies since 2019. Allegations in these investigations include issues with the pipeline’s coating, falsified reports, and retaliation against workers who spoke up about safety issues. These issues raise serious concerns about the safety of the Falcon Pipeline.
Public agencies have not responded to local concerns about what they are doing to hold Shell accountable and keep the public and workers safe. The People Over Petro Coalition, building off years of local resistance and organizing around this pipeline, is working to uncover more information and demand action. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to get involved.
The 98-mile pipeline system passes through Ohio, West Virginia, and Pennsylvania, impacting major drinking water sources like the Ohio River, the Ambridge Reservoir, and the Tappan Lake Reservoir, which supply water to millions of residents. Spills and incidents are extremely common along pipelines. In total, Shell was responsible for 194 pipeline incidents from 2002 – 2016. These incidents spilled 59,290 barrels of petrochemical products totaling some $183-million in damages.
Aside from threatening to pollute fresh water resources, the Falcon Pipeline puts residents in potentially grave danger. Based on 2010 Census data, FracTracker Alliance estimates that 2,499 people live within the Falcon’s “blast zone,” which represents the distance in which a person standing outdoors in the vicinity of a pipeline rupture and fire would have only a 99% chance of survival; or in which death, injury, or significant property damage could occur. When expanded to the total High Consequence Area—a wider radius that reflects the potential for ethane vapors to flow long distances before igniting—this total increases to 8,738 people, in addition to 5 schools, 6 daycare centers, and 16 emergency response centers.
Following a May 2021 public meeting hosted by the People Over Petro Coalition, a petition with over 2,000 signatures was delivered to the Pipeline and Hazardous Materials Safety Administration (PHMSA) demanding the federal agency host its own public meeting to address serious health and safety concerns. Thus far, PHMSA has refused to host such a meeting.
Shell has stated that the Falcon Pipeline is set to begin operations in August 2021. However, many residents oppose the pipeline’s operation unless they receive more transparent answers around questions of safety.
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Resources to learn more and take action:
- Sign up for the People Over Petro mailing list to stay informed about the Falcon Pipeline
- Learn more about the Falcon in this campaign video
- FracTracker’s Falcon Public Environmental Impact Assessment, maps, and data
- Are you aware of issues with the Falcon Pipeline, such as spills, false reporting, or faulty construction? Contact FracTracker Alliance to have a confidential conversation about your concerns by emailing email@example.com or calling (717) 303-0403. FracTracker Alliance is a nonprofit organization that maps, analyzes, and communicates the risks of oil, gas, and petrochemical development to advance just energy alternatives that protect public health, natural resources, and the climate.
- Download the FracTracker mobile app to document oil and gas infrastructure near you.
- Learn more about what happens when a pipeline explodes from StateImpact NPR: Revolution Pipeline, part of which exploded in 2018, is back in service.
Featured photo credit: “The Falcon Pipeline route at its Ohio River Crossing Feature (A.Lauschke/LightHawk)”