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St. Clair Residents Glad Refinery Won’t Go Up Across River

July 9, 2008

By Tina Lam, Detroit Free Press

Jul. 9–Shell Canada has canceled plans for a giant new refinery along the St. Clair River that ran into strong opposition on the U.S. side but was welcomed in Canada for its jobs.

The project was to stretch along five miles of shoreline across from Marine City and St. Clair and directly opposite St. John River District Hospital in East China Township in St. Clair County. It was to process up to 250,000 barrels of heavy crude oil a day from tar sands in Alberta to make fuel for the Canadian market.

Officials from the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency and the Michigan Department of Environmental Quality had expressed concerns about possible chemical discharges into the river. The agencies said environmental studies by Shell weren’t taking U.S. concerns into account and that drinking water intakes downstream could be at risk.

Shell said on its Web site it was canceling the project because of inflation, market conditions and other pressures. Plans for the refinery had been in the works for two years.

An overflow crowd of 250 people packed a meeting about the refinery June 23 in East China Township, many standing outside in the rain, said state Rep. Phil Pavlov, R-St. Clair. A second meeting at a larger space planned for the end of this month has been canceled.

“The whole community was concerned,” he said.

Doug Martz, chairman of the Macomb County Water Quality Board, was ecstatic after hearing Shell’s decision Tuesday. “It makes me really happy,” he said. He was a key opponent of the project and got several local commissions to pass resolutions condemning it.

Contact TINA LAM at 313-222-6421 or tlam@freepress.com.

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