Rick Van Hemmen

Nova builds on strongest year with expansion plan

About five years ago bleak trends and limited feedstock supplies haunted Nova Chemicals’ Joffre plant.

About five years ago bleak trends and limited feedstock supplies haunted Nova Chemicals’ Joffre plant.

There is a different story to tell this year as it has been the strongest yet for the plant, which further intends to increase its polyethylene production by 40 per cent with the addition of a third world-scale polyethylene reactor as part of the existing facility.

The expansion to the west side of the 900 acre site will cost $750 million to $900 million, community members were told at an open house at the Satinwood School, east of the Joffre plant, Wednesday night.

“We did hear that Nova was slowing down a few years ago and we didn’t know if it was being terminated or what was happening,” said Lacombe County coun. Rod McDermand.

“So I think it is great they are going forward with this. The tax base is a huge asset.”

The polyethylene reactor will be designed to produce between 950 to 1,100 million pounds of low density polyethylene — a substance used in the production of pellets and everyday consumer products such as storage containers and food packaging.

“The expansion will put the company at the front-end of the market place and helps us solidify our strength and position,” site manager Rick Van Hemmen said.

The project, set to be completed in 2015, pending full board approval, will also require additional infrastructure such as a new electrical substation, a flare and cooling tower, a rail loading facility and rail car storage.

Van Hemmen says there will be a 30 per cent increase in rail traffic entering and leaving the site.

“We are trying to actively manage those impacts,” he said.

Nova Chemicals will make application to Alberta Environment and Water for an amendment to its current industrial approval this June, which will include an overview of environmental studies conducted for the project.

Van Hemmen says there will be a 0.5 per cent increase of waste generation and 1.2 per cent of green house gas emissions.

“I haven’t heard many concerns with this,” said newly-elected MLA Rod Fox.

“It looks like they are doing their due diligence.”

“I am all for this,” said retired heavy equipment operator Christian Belzile who is a resident of the area.

“The quality here is better than what is in Edmonton and Calgary.”

The company estimates the expansion will need roughly 150 to 200 tradespeople, with a peak of about 500 workers by late 2014.

Once the polyethylene reactor is operating Nova Chemicals hopes to employ 25 to 35 new permanent employees, along with another 15 to 25 contractor positions.

Nova Chemicals’ Joffre plant is one of the largest ethylene and polyethylene production complexes in the world.

It is located in Lacombe County, east of Red Deer.

For more information email joffresite@novachem.com or visit www.novachemicals.com/joffre.

jjones@bprda.wpengine.com

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