No slowdown expected to result from layoffs

The opening of a $90-million local garbage gasification plant won’t be delayed by the temporary layoffs of 57 Plasco engineers, says a company official.

The opening of a $90-million local garbage gasification plant won’t be delayed by the temporary layoffs of 57 Plasco engineers, says a company official.

The Red Deer-area plant is still expected to become operational in the summer of 2010, said Plasco executive vice-president Chris Gay of Ottawa. “I cannot see this impacting the project start date.”

Plasco is laying off 57 engineering employees for 13 weeks because of delays in raising project financing for the Central Alberta plant. This will reduce the company’s staff of 165 to 108.

Gay said capital markets are still recuperating from the global credit crunch, so banks and investors are understandably cautious about outlays of money.

While he hopes the recent strengthening of the stock market and oil prices will soon lead to an economic recovery, Gay maintains the plant in Red Deer County won’t be delayed, in any event, because Plasco has other plans for financing the project.

This includes forming partnerships with Alberta power companies — a couple have expressed interest because “for each tonne of waste, we can provide two tonnes of carbon credits,” he added.

The company can also apply for federal government infrastructure stimulus funding.

Gay said the laid off engineers had been refining Plasco’s “green” garbage disposal technologies to make them even more environmentally friendly.

But at this point, he believes it’s more important to focus on commercializing the technologies for turning garbage into electricity through a process called plasma gasification. This is being done by some of the remaining workers.

The engineers’ services will again be needed once the financial sector recovers, said Gay. “We are believing that when investment starts to flow again, we will recall these people.”

Red Deer County Councillor Reimar Poth, who’s on the Central Waste Management Committee, remains confident in the project, saying “the plant’s going to go ahead eventually,” even if there are small delays.

Most corporations have been adversely affected by the economy, so why not Plasco, asked Poth, who is buoyed by signs the economy has been improving since March, and does not believe the layoffs will be indefinite.

Thirteen weeks “is not an extended period of time,” added the councillor, who expects to learn more at the next Central Waste Management Committee meeting at the end of May.

Former Red Deer MP Bob Mills, who helped bring the project to Central Alberta and is now a consultant for Plasco, also reaffirmed his belief that the gasification plant will be built. If there’s a delay, he said, “I can see it being months, not years.”

Like other companies, Plasco has to be “creative” in lining up financing in these fiscally tight times, said Mills. “These guys have taken it this far . . . I’m still optimistic and excited.”

The 200-tonne-a-day plant is expected to be built next to Red Deer County’s Horn Hill Waste Transfer Site, just east of Penhold.

The nine communities of the Central Waste Management Commission, including the county, City of Red Deer and five area towns and two villages, have signed 20-year commitments to supply garbage to the gasification plant.

Get local stories you won't find anywhere else right to your inbox.
Sign up here

Just Posted

Lyn Radford, 2019 Canada Winter Games board chair, was named 2020 Sport Event Volunteer of the Year at the Prestige Awards. (File photo by Advocate staff)
WATCH: Lyn Radford wins award for volunteer efforts

The board chair of the 2019 Canada Winter Games in Red Deer… Continue reading

A health-care worker prepares a dose of the Pfizer-BioNTech COVID-19 vaccine at a UHN COVID-19 vaccine clinic in Toronto on Thursday, January 7, 2021. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Red Deer dips below 300 active COVID-19 cases

The number of active COVID-19 cases in Red Deer continued to drop… Continue reading

A candlelight vigil will be held in Red Deer on Thursday to honour the 350-plus people killed in the Easter bombing attack in Sri Lanka. Contributed photo
Candlelight vigil planned for deaths linked to Olymel COVID-19 outbreak

A candlelight vigil is being planned for those who died due to… Continue reading

Red Deer Rebels forward Jaxsen Wiebe battles Calgary Hitmen forward Cael Zimmerman for a loose puck when the two teams squared off in February last season. (Photo by BYRON HACKETT/Advocate Staff)
Calgary Hitmen shutout Red Deer Rebels

Rebels name centre Jayden Grubbe team captain ahead of Friday’s game

Bryson, six, and Mara, eight, play with puppies from Dogs With Wings Saturday. (Photo by Sean McIntosh/Advocate staff)
WATCH: Dogs With Wings introduces Red Deer program

A program that trains puppies to be certified service, autism, facility and… Continue reading

Walter Gretzky father of hockey hall-of-famer Wayne Gretzky waves to fans as the Buffalo Sabres play against the Toronto Maple Leafs during third period NHL hockey action in Toronto on Tuesday, January 17, 2017. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Nathan Denette
Funeral for Walter Gretzky to be held Saturday in home town of Brantford, Ont.

The funeral for hockey legend Wayne Gretzky’s father Walter will take place… Continue reading

A sign for the Canadian Security Intelligence Service building is shown in Ottawa on May 14, 2013. A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the judicial warrant process at Canada's spy agency — an issue that made headlines last summer — stretch back at least nine years. THE CANADIAN PRESS/Sean Kilpatrick
Spy warrant shortcomings stretch back almost a decade, newly released audit shows

OTTAWA — A newly released audit report shows that difficulties with the… Continue reading

In this file photo, a lotto Max ticket is shown in Toronto on Monday Feb. 26, 2018. (By THE CANADIAN PRESS)
No winning ticket for Friday night’s Lotto Max jackpot

TORONTO — No winning ticket was sold for the estimated $29 million… Continue reading

A trial countdown sign marks the days at George Floyd Square, March 4, 2021, in Minneapolis. Ten months after police officers brushed off George Floyd's moans for help on the street outside a south Minneapolis grocery, the square remains a makeshift memorial for Floyd who died at the hand of police making an arrest. The trial of former Minneapolis police officer Derek Chauvin will begin with jury selection on March 8. (AP Photo/Jim Mone)
Officer’s trial could reopen intersection where Floyd died

MINNEAPOLIS — During a group’s recent meeting at the now-vacant Speedway gas… Continue reading

FILE - In this Aug. 30, 2020 file photo Portland Police Chief Chuck Lovell calls for an end to violence in the city during a news conference a day after a demonstrator was shot and killed in downtown Portland. Amid protests following the police killing of George Floyd last year Portland dissolved a special police unit designed to focus on gun violence. Critics say the squad unfairly targeted Black people, but gun violence and homicides have since spiked in Oregon's largest city, and some say disbanding the 35-officer unit was a mistake. (Sean Meagher/The Oregonian via AP, File)
As violence surges, some question Portland axing police unit

PORTLAND, Ore. — Elmer Yarborough got a terrifying call from his sister:… Continue reading

Harley Hay
Harley Hay: Just don’t call it cod liver oil

Many people swear that a daily dose of various vitamins is an… Continue reading

Letter: Preserving green spaces in Red Deer

The Advocate published an article Feb. 11 about Sunnybrook residents concerned about… Continue reading

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Former Toronto Argonauts lineman Chris Schultz remembered as a gentle giant

Most Read