The workforce is ramping up on Nova Chemicals’ $1-billion polyethylene plant expansion.
About 400 to 450 contract workers are on the project and more will be added over the summer until reaching a September peak of 800, a number that will hold steady for about six months.
Expansion of one of Nova’s two polyethylene plants is about 30 per cent complete and on target for startup in the last quarter of next year.
Joffre site leader Rick Van Hemmen said workers will be split between day and night shifts. A new entrance to the site was built on the west end to reduce traffic bottlenecks, although there has been some congestion at certain times.
The company has been working with Lacombe County and enforcement agencies to manage area intersections, as well as paying for additional police coverage to direct traffic when needed.
The peak-period workforce will be similar to that on site during large turnarounds, an almost annual event at Joffre, said Van Hemmen.
“It’s nothing unusual for the site to see those types of numbers for projects for a period of time. This will just be more prolonged period.
“I think we’ll be at the peak through the spring of next year, perhaps into the middle of next year.”
Nova is encouraging car pooling and promotes courteous driving as part of its Good Neighbour strategy.
The petrochemical giant is also in the midst of a $250-million project to refurbish five of 11 furnaces in one of its Joffre ethylene plants. The first has been completed and the other four are expected to follow more quickly now that much of the engineering work has been done.
Meanwhile, construction work on an expanded rail yard needed to boost shipment capacity for the plant expansion has been completed. An additional 13 km of track with room to store another 450 cars has been laid north of the plant site.
New cars will be arriving in coming months and stored in the rail yard until needed.
“They’ll pretty much just sit there for the time being until the (polyethylene) project fires up late next year,” said Van Hemmen.
Nova has committed to a 10 p.m. to 7 a.m. curfew — except in unusual situations — to keep the noise down, as well as other noise abatement measures and ongoing monitoring.
Nova sat down with Lacombe County, CN and neighbouring landowners to put together the noise reduction plan.
The company is also looking into building a new stormwater runoff retention pond at the southeast corner of the site. Once a site has been finalized, Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development approval will be required.
An existing retention pond that has gradually filled with sediments will be restored and later re-used as a backup. Some historic hydrocarbon contaminants, dating back to the 1970s, will also be cleaned up.
The ponds are used to contain rainwater and uncontaminated runoff from the site.