From Fabisiak’s perspective, one ethane cracker plant’s emissions are equivalent to 36,000 automobiles each traveling 12,000 miles a year. Or in simpler terms, it would represent a 25 percent increase in traffic across the region. The professor did note that some aspects of local air quality are improving, especially since the old Horsehead zinc smelter left the area. Regardless, the prospect of Shell looming on the horizon could change all of that, he said. “We are far from living up to the potential of what this area can be,” he said. Fabisiak also noted that the old Horsehead plant emitted large quantities of lead into the atmosphere, much more than the Shell plant will. However, he said the amount of volatile organic compounds like formaldehyde, methane and benzene released by the Shell plant will “dwarf” the amount released by the former Horsehead plant.