A tower crane marks the site of Nova Chemicals Corp.’s polyethylene plant expansion at its Joffre complex.

A tower crane marks the site of Nova Chemicals Corp.’s polyethylene plant expansion at its Joffre complex.

Crane signals new phase in Nova expansion

Nova Chemicals Corp.’s nearly $1-billion expansion of its Joffre facilities has taken a visible jump forward — or at least upward. A 57-metre-high tower crane has been erected at the site where Nova plans to install a third reactor in one of its polyethylene plants, as well as related infrastructure like a flare stack and cooling tower. The crane, which has a 60-metre working radius and can lift up to 12 tonnes, will be used for the installation of materials and equipment, as well as for pouring concrete.

Nova Chemicals Corp.’s nearly $1-billion expansion of its Joffre facilities has taken a visible jump forward — or at least upward.

A 57-metre-high tower crane has been erected at the site where Nova plans to install a third reactor in one of its polyethylene plants, as well as related infrastructure like a flare stack and cooling tower. The crane, which has a 60-metre working radius and can lift up to 12 tonnes, will be used for the installation of materials and equipment, as well as for pouring concrete.

“It will sit in that initial construction zone and be used for a whole host of things,” said Rick Van Hemmen, Nova’s Joffre site leader.

So far, much of the construction activity has focused on developing the infrastructure required for the project, said Van Hemmen.

“There’s not much of a skyline change because almost all of the work right now is at grade level. It’s work on piling and foundations and underground activities, and really just setting up the construction area.”

He said expansion of the rail yards that serves the Nova complex is also underway, including earthwork for temporary facilities, grading of soil, and preparing the ground for rail installation.

Approximately 65 workers were on site during the summer, a number that Van Hemmen expects to grow to about 100 this fall. He anticipates a peak workforce of around 800 late next year and into 2015.

The project is proceeding as expected, he said. Completion has been projected for the end of 2015, but Nova officials will have a better sense of the timelines early next year, said Van Hemmen.

The new reactor is expected to boost Nova’s annual polyethylene output at Joffre to about 3.5 billion pounds from its current 2.5 billion pounds.

Meanwhile, work is expected to begin shortly on the enhancement of a wetlands area north of the Joffre complex. Announced in conjunction with the official launch of the polyethylene plant expansion in June, the project will include the development of a nature trail and other features on approximately 220 acres of Nova land.

An assessment of the land and the wildlife living there was completed this summer, with design work now wrapping up.

“We really want this to be a class installation,” said Van Hemmen. “We do want this to be used by the community, by our employees.”

The wetlands project is expected to be completed early next year.

hrichards@bprda.wpengine.com