Tag Archives: Aliquippa

In Beaver County, A Mix Of Hope And Fear Over Startup Of Shell’S Ethane Cracker – The Allegheny Front

Joyce and Don Hanshaw can see the Shell ethane cracker from their backyard in Vanport, Pa. Photo: Reid R. Frazier / The Allegheny Front

By Reporterwings.org

June 12, 2022

For decades, steel mills lined Western Pennsylvania’s rivers, and though they belched out soot and pollution, they put food on the table. It’s a familiar story, nowhere more true than in beaver county, says Skip Homan.

“Steel in Beaver County was the major source of employment,” said Homan, vice-chair of the Beaver County Partnership for Community and Economic Development. A former CEO of the engineering firm Michael Baker, Homan said when steel left in the 1980s, the county’s tax base tanked, as did its population and school enrollments.

But then came Shell. In 2012, the company said it was considering Beaver County as a potential site for an ethane cracker, a massive chemical plant that would turn natural gas produced from the region’s fracking industry into 1.6 million metric tons of plastic pellets a year. In 2016, it committed to the site.

Homan sensed a big moment coming. “I was thrilled,” he said. “Before Shell, Beaver County was really not recognized, not known. Now Beaver County is on the map.”

The plant received the largest subsidy ever in Pennsylvania – a $1.65 billion dollar tax credit over 25 years. Homan says he didn’t have a problem with that – if that’s what it took to lure the plant to Beaver County.

Now the site, which stretches along about a mile of riverfront, is nearly built. Shell spokesman Curtis Thomas said the workforce is down to 3,000, and has been testing equipment to begin operations this summer.

At its peak, construction of the plant employed 8,500 workers. Many were from out-of-state, and they crowded the county’s hotels, restaurants, and rental apartments. When it opens it will have 600 permanent jobs.

Hopes and fears

Since the company’s plans were first announced, the plant has conjured hope as well as fear for many in Beaver County. Some hope for good jobs, while others fear a return of toxic skies and waterways that plagued western Pennsylvania during the steel era.

Count Skip Homan in the former group.

“I see the light [of the plant] at night from my house,” said Homan. “And no, I’m not bothered…I have a high degree of confidence that Shell will be good for the environment here.”

Joyce and Don Hanshaw
But some are not so happy. Joyce Hanshaw lives across the Ohio River from the plant in the town of Vanport.

She and her husband Don, a retired steelworker, used to have bonfires in their backyard but stopped since the plant was constructed.

“The whole area here is all lit up all the time. So there’s no really no nighttime here,” said Hanshaw, 72.

Hanshaw and her husband bought their house in 1973. She doesn’t want to move, mostly because the house is paid off. She says she’s already heard strange sounds coming from the plant.

“You heard this whoooo – and didn’t even know what the devil was going on. I thought it was a train coming down the street,” she said.

Hanshaw, who uses an inhaler to help her breathe because of a lung condition, says she’s worried about what kind of health problems the plant might cause when it goes online.

“I’m just wondering for health reasons,” Hanshaw said, “what’s it going to be like?”

In Beaver County, a mix of hope and fear over startup of Shell’s ethane cracker – The Allegheny Front

Worries about air pollution

Hanshaw is not alone. A couple of miles away lives Dave Blair. He’s a retired shop teacher formally from Bedford County. He built a new house in Monaca, about two miles from the plant, so that he and his wife could be close to their adult children, who live in Beaver County.

Blair has asthma. He wears a dust mask whenever he’s in his basement wood shop. Chemicals in wood finishing products give him the biggest reactions, he says. He manages the condition with medication.

“I get two shots every ten days and then I take an inhaler that costs me $90 a month,” Blair said.

Continue reading In Beaver County, A Mix Of Hope And Fear Over Startup Of Shell’S Ethane Cracker – The Allegheny Front

First Victory for Aliquippa Hospital Workers!


Photo: Protest at CMC in Aliquippa During Sit-In

Bridge Finance
Backs Down,
Agree To Pay

SEIU Press Release
Jan 27, 2008

In a victory for laid-off employees of Commonwealth Medical Center (formerly Aliquippa Hospital) who have been fighting for unpaid wages, the Medical Center and its chief lender, Bridge Finance Group, agreed to pay part of the wages owed immediately and to work toward full payment within three weeks.

The agreement reached on Tuesday provides that the former employees will receive a portion of the wages owed by 12:00 Noon on Wednesday, January 28, with a commitment to ensuring full compensation in the next few weeks.

“This is a tremendous first step, and we are going to keep fighting to make sure everyone is paid in full for our work on behalf of patients and our community,” said Kathie Marino, RN and former Commonwealth employee. “Amidst this economic crisis, working people need to stick together so our voices are heard.”
Continue reading First Victory for Aliquippa Hospital Workers!

Aliquippa Labor Battle Heats Up:


Photo: Hospital workers demanding justice

SEIU Workers Stage Sit-In
to Demand Justice, Unpaid Wages

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Aliquippa, PA, January 26, 2009–Seven labor activists—four Registered Nurses, a union secretary and two priests—staged an occupation of the medical library in the Commonwealth Medical Center in Aliquippa, PA to demand backpay for employees who lost their jobs when the hospital closed in December. After several hours, the seven were escorted off the property by officers arriving in six police cars. Continue reading Aliquippa Labor Battle Heats Up:

No Shame: Hospital Workers Robbed in Court


Photo: Closed Hospital in Aliquippa

Injustice In Aliquippa:
New Labor Battle
Over Hospital Shutdown

By Carl Davidson
Beaver County Blue

Hundreds of fired hospital workers are awakening the historic spirit of class struggle in Beaver County, as they confront an effort by heath industry financiers and a bankruptcy court to steal their wages after destroying their jobs.

That was the message made loud and clear at a rally of over 100 Commonwealth Medical Center workers and their allies at the Serbian Club on a snowy afternoon, January 9, in Aliquippa, Pa. The members of SEIU Local 1199 are organizing for further action at the US Bankruptcy court in downtown Pittsburgh on Jan.27, as well as at the offices of Bridge Finance Group in Chicago.
Continue reading No Shame: Hospital Workers Robbed in Court

‘Aliquippa For Obama’ – Fired Up, Ready to Go

Organizing for
Obama in a
Hard-hit Steel Town

By Carl Davidson
Progressives for Obama

You knew something special was happening when the youngest, freshest face in the room got up, took charge and called the meeting to order-“Hello, I’m Scout Sanders, and welcome to the first meeting of Aliquippa for Obama!’

Sanders was a full-time Obama volunteer, a student from the University of Connecticut, and her bright smile and enthusiasm brightened up a room of about 30 residents of Aliquippa and a few other nearby towns. Those who came were all ages, from young teenagers to retired workers in their seventies, a little more than half were African American, about two-thirds were women.

Aliquippa is a severely stressed milltown in Beaver County, Western Pennsylvania. At one time nearly 30,000 people lived here, mostly steelworkers and their families. Now it’s down to 12,000, with 6000 low-income African-Americans hanging on in the central area, with the white workers living in the border neighborhoods. The home of Mike Ditka, Tony Dorsett, and other great athletes, it’s a tough, no-nonsense place in dire need of a hopeful future. The meeting was in a bright and well-cared-for church-run coffee house, Uncommon Grounds, on the mostly boarded up main street. Continue reading ‘Aliquippa For Obama’ – Fired Up, Ready to Go