Odebrecht Organization has taken another step in its plans to construct a multi-billion-dollar ethane cracker and three associated polyethylene plants in West Virginia, submitting a voluntary remediation program (VRP) application to the state.

West Virginia Department of Environmental Protection (WVDEP) officials weren’t available for comment on Wednesday, but spokeswoman Kelley Gillenwater said Odebrecht subsidiary Appalachian Shale Cracker Enterprise LLC (ASCENT) had recently submitted the application.

The WVDEP’s Office of Environmental Remediation is currently negotiating a remediation agreement with Ascent that would allow the company to work with regulators to identify human health and ecological risks, and begin cleanup at the site.

The state’s VRP offers financial incentives to encourage the cleanup of contaminated or under-utilized properties. Odebrecht’s application is for a 363-acre site in Washington, WV, near Parkersburg, which is roughly 75 miles north of the state capital, and in close proximity to Marcellus and Utica shale development.

Last November, West Virginia Gov. Earl Ray Tomblin announced that Odebrecht would explore the possibility of building a $3.8 billion cracker facility in the state, including water treatment and co-generation infrastructure (see Shale Daily, Nov. 14, 2013). The plant would process ethane produced in the Marcellus and Utica shales into ethylene and polyethylene for plastics.

At the time, Odebrecht said it had been in discussions with state officials for about two years. The company has been acquiring land in the area since last year. ASCENT’s application calls for remediation work at the 363-acre site, which consists of two tracts, according to the WVDEP.

The south tract is already owned by ASCENT and encompasses 194 acres of mostly undeveloped property that was secured by the company in January. The north tract is currently owned by a plastics company, which plans to transfer the 169-acre title to ASCENT next year.

Odebrecht has remained quiet about its plans in West Virginia since Tomblin made the announcement, and attempts to reach company officials on Wednesday were unsuccessful. In May, a company spokesman said ASCENT’s air quality and evaluation permit applications, which have already been submitted, were merely part of a broader process to evaluate the feasibility of last year’s proposal (see Shale Daily, May 19).

Meanwhile, the start-up company behind a separate project, a regionally focused cracker, which would process about 15,000 b/d of ethane, took another small step this week to advance its project, according to reports. Appalachian Resins Inc., which first announced its project in 2012, said it had signed a letter of intent to purchase 50 acres of land in Monroe County, OH, for the facility (see Shale Daily, Feb. 6, 2013).

At a conference earlier this year, Appalachian Resins Vice President of Operations Rick Caldwell said the company would invest roughly $900 million to build the smaller facility. The company had been searching for a location in either West Virginia or Ohio, but Caldwell told NGI’s Shale Daily at the time that few details were available about the project’s financing, feedstock commitments or a development timeline (see Shale Daily, May 2).