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Officials investigating Shell’s unsettling discovery

If there’s valuable lesson we can retain from the movie Poltergeist, it’s that developing over the burial ground for the dead can certainly throw a wrench in your plans. Shell Chemicals seemed to take the cue when human remains were discovered at the site of its proposed ethane cracker plant in Potter Township, Pennsylvania.

The Times Online reports two skulls and other bones were found at the site, dating back more than 100 years.

“We think it was a family grave that was there,” Howard Pollman with the Pennsylvania Historical and Museum Commission told the Times.

But ghouls and flying objects are unlikely to torment employees of the new cracker plant—Shell officials took the moral high road and notified Deputy State Historic Preservation Officer Serena Bellew, as is the protocol for situations involving human remains.

An examination of the remains will be conducted by Beaver County coroner Teri Tatalovich-Rossi and forensic anthropologist Dennis Dirkmaat, who worked as an advisor in identifying the 93 victims of the Sept. 11, 2001 terrorist attacks.

“At this point, we don’t know the identity of these people and we won’t for a while,” Tatalovich-Rossi told the Times. “It’s the intention of the coroner’s office to treat this situation with respect and dignity as to those who died and those survivors who may still be here.”

While the examiners might not have a definitive ID on the remains any time soon, the area had once been farmed by the Stone family, the descendants of whom still live in the area.

Pollman said Shell planned on “reaching out” to the family about claiming the remains, but Shell spokesman Michael Marr said the company will leave the notification up to the “appropriate authorities.”

The possibility of finding human remains might not be a common concern while scoping out real estate, but the thought apparently had crossed the minds of Shell officials. The company initially hired consultants to look for indications of burials, but hadn’t found any during their analysis.

The site has been a long-time industrial location, but had also been home to a colonial-era farm and Native American populations before that.

In related news, body found at Dickinson site identified as missing man.

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