Touting the importance of the Three Rs, Ontario Minister of the Environment John Wilkinson joined Safety-Kleen executives to break new ground for their $26-million expansion in Breslau Oct. 28.
“We are the only species on the planet who does not know how to live sustainably on this planet,” Wilkinson told a crowded room of employees, politicians and media at the oil re-refinery facility at 300 Woolwich St. W.
The expansion, which received approval from Woolwich Township last March, should take about 18 months to complete and will enable the facility to increase its oil re-refining operations by 25 per cent, to 191 million litres annually from 152 million.
Wilkinson stressed that the company continues to grow without any financial aid from the government.
“It is a completely market-driven solution. It doesn’t require a subsidy.”
“Oil does not wear out, it just gets dirty,” explained Dave Sprinkle, the company’s executive vice-president of oil re-refining, adding the expansion of the recycling facility will help reduce greenhouse gas emissions by 392,000 tonnes per year – the equivalent of taking 72,000 cars off the road.
The company is also going to begin to push its own brand of recycled “green” oil under the names Performance Plus and Eco Power, said Dale MacIntyre, vice-president of Canadian refinery operations.
“It’s always been green, we’re just going to start pushing it as a green product now,” he noted. “Most of our oil is sold back into the service sector, and most large retailers have our oil, either under our own brands or their own name.”
Earlier this year, Elmira environmentalist Alan Marshall challenged the Safety-Kleen expansion. He maintains that pollutants have been sitting in lagoons and shallow aquifers below the site for some 30 years, and that dissolved contaminants are entering the groundwater and making their way to the river.
Between 10,000 and 20,000 gallons of hydrocarbon contaminates are in the area. The company has been working to pump up the waste and treat it, and they have said that remediation could take up to 20 years.
The Breslau facility occupies six hectares in Breslau and currently employs 125 people, with another 260 Safety-Kleen employees province-wide, and the expansion should create about eight full-time jobs in the province, the company says.
Texas-based Safety-Kleen is one of the largest re-refiners in the world and specializes in oil recycling, parts cleaning and environmental solutions. It employs about 4,100 people, serving the United States, Canada, Mexico, and Puerto Rico. The Breslau facility is the largest oil re-refinery in Canada and the second-largest in the world after the Safety-Kleen re-refinery in East Chicago, Indiana – two-and-a-half times larger than the facility in Breslau.