Nova Chemicals clearing obstacles to expansion

Nova Chemicals Corp. continues to knock off items on its “to do” list ahead of a major polyethylene expansion anticipated to begin this spring.

Nova Chemicals Corp. continues to knock off items on its “to do” list ahead of a major polyethylene expansion anticipated to begin this spring.

Rick Van Hemmen, Nova’s Joffre site leader, was before Lacombe County council on Thursday to request the closure of a road allowance that would be sandwiched between the petrochemical plant’s existing rail yard and a planned addition that would handle another 450 rail cars.

If approved, the county would sell the eight-acre unused road allowance to Nova.

Van Hemmen said closing the county-owned road allowance avoids having to fence the area off and manage security along the narrow strip of land.

Before the county can sell the land, it must get minister of Infrastructure and Transportation approval and hold a public hearing. It will likely take three or four months to complete.

Van Hemmen said the project team is busy preparing all of the necessary background work to take the $750-million to $900-million expansion proposal to Nova’s board for approval in March.

Revised cost estimates, the business case and detailed development engineering work is all well advanced and it is expected the project will get the green light for a spring construction start and end-of-2015 completion date.

“I’m not anticipating a huge issue,” said Van Hemmen, who said the board has been regularly updated on the planning work underway. “I think we’ve done a great job.”

The new polyethylene plant will produce about 950 million to 1.1 billion pounds of low-density polyethylene a year — boosting total plant production by about 40 per cent.

Polyethylene is used to manufacture everything from plastic bags and stretch wrap to bottles and toys.

A county development permit for the new polyethylene reactor has already been approved. Rezoning the land for the rail yards from agricultural to industrial and lining up a development permit for that portion of the project remains to be done.

Provincial approvals from Alberta Environment and Sustainable Resource Development were received last December.

pcowley@bprda.wpengine.com

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