JOHNSTOWN - While trains no longer run in and out of the old Shell Plant at 163 Cramer Pike, the giant manufacturing warehouse is still a hub of manufacturing activity.
And that activity is vital to Pennsylvania's growing Marcellus shale industry, Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa., said after touring the facility now home to Environmental Tank Corp.
Environmental Tank, an outgrowth of contract fabricator JWF Industries, currently occupies the 800,000-square-foot facility. The company manufactures massive steel frac and flowback tanks used in the Marcellus Shale and other drilling and waste-water industries, President and CEO Bill Polacek said.
Mirror photo by Zach Geiger
U.S. Sen. Pat Toomey, R-Pa, tours the Environmental Tank Corp. facility in Johnstown on Monday with company President and CEO Bill Polacek. Toomey discussed safe development of the Marcellus Shale industry and praised the work of ETC’s 450 employees at the plant. The plant manufactures frac tanks and other equipment used in the natural gas and environmental waste industries.
But most importantly, the company employs 450 workers and is a strong example of the need for increased manufacturing jobs in the state, Toomey said.
"These folks are asking for the opportunity to grow, as long as the federal government gets out of the way," Toomey said.
The tanks manufactured by ETC are only one aspect of the growing shale gas industry in Pennsylvania, he said. But federal limitations imposed by the Environmental Protection Agency on Pennsylvania's already "strict" drilling regulations could inhibit the industry's growth, Toomey said.
Drillers are already taking steps to improve the safety of their processes and ensure the long-term success of natural gas drilling in Pennsylvania, Toomey said. And the industry's demand has increased, enabling companies such as ETC to expand their operations and provide jobs for Pennsylvanians.
"Let's not get in the way and stop a good thing," he added.
There are many long-term opportunities associated with the Marcellus shale industry, Polacek said. The government needs to adopt an environmentally sound policy towards drilling that does not inhibit job growth - something he hope Toomey will continue to advocate for, Polacek said.
Cambria County Commissioner Mark Wissinger praised the company for utilizing the existing manufacturing space already at 163 Cramer Pike.
"Re-using these plants ... as far as a place to operate, it can't be much better," Wissinger said.
President Commissioner Douglas Lengenfelder echoed Wissinger's words, dubbing Cambria County as "Energy County."
The Marcellus shale industry and the manufacturing growth behind it - along with Cambria County's investments in wind, coal and other sources of power - will help move the county forward, Lengenfelder said.
"We want to be involved from beginning to end," he added.
Toomey visited the plant to witness its production capabilities just months after Gov. Tom Corbett's December tour of the facility, thanked the 450 employees for their hard work.
Efforts such as the Johnstown facility are needed for a "stronger, healthier economy" in Pennsylvania, Toomey said.
Mirror Staff Writer Zach Geiger is at 946-7535.