Edmonton

COVID-19 outbreak confirmed at Edmonton waste management facility

Ten workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at the City of Edmonton’s main recycling plant.

10 cases identified among workers, recycling sorting facility closed

Workers sort recycled materials at Edmonton's Materials Recovery Facility. The facility has been closed after 10 workers were confirmed to have COVID-19. (Manuel Carrilos/CBC)

Ten workers have tested positive for COVID-19 in an outbreak at the City of Edmonton's main recycling plant.

Contact-tracing is underway to determine if the virus has spread further.

The workers are employed by SUEZ Canada, which is contracted by the city to operate the Materials Recovery Facility (MRF), interim city manager Adam Laughlin said Friday.

"On June 9, SUEZ advised us that one of their employees working at the MRF tested positive for COVID-19. Upon notification, all activities at the recovery facility were suspended and the facility was closed," Laughlin said.

"As of yesterday, we have been advised that 10 SUEZ employees have tested positive."

Laughlin stressed that there is no public exposure or public access to the facility, which has been closed until further notice. 

The Materials Recovery Facility is a 64,000-square-foot recycling plant. It's part of the Edmonton Waste Management Centre in the city's northeast. The city says the plant is capable of processing 50,000 tonnes of material each year.

Workers at the recycling plant sort materials from residential blue bags and depots for recycling or processing, Laughlin said. "They play an important role in keeping waste out of the landfill."

The MRF and other areas of the waste management centre have undergone significant cleaning and disinfecting.

SUEZ is working with Alberta Health Services on continued contact tracing and testing, Laughlin said.

As testing continues, those numbers may change, he added.

Since the first phase of the province's relaunch began, the total number of cases in the Edmonton zone has increased from 497 on May 14 to 770 by June 17. 

As of Thursday, there were 200 active cases in the Edmonton zone.

Edmonton is currently well below the rate of 50 cases per 100,000, with at least 10 active cases, which the province has identified as a threshold of concern, Laughlin said.

While the rate in the city is currently 20 cases per 100,000, the steady increase is a worry, he said.

"This virus has proven that it can spread quickly," he said. "Which is why every time I'm up here, I'm reinforcing that we still need people to stay very diligent when it comes to this virus."

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