Tunnelling of £635M Lee Tunnel reaches Abbey Mills
Thames Water says the tunnel machine digging a four-mile long sewer from Beckton to Abbey Mills has reached its final destination on time and on budget. The tunnelling started in two years ago, with the 120m long machine cutting through layers of chalk and flint at extreme groundwater pressures to create London's deepest tunnel.
When in full working action in 2015 the £635M Lee Tunnel will help prevent millions of tonnes of raw sewage entering the River Lee. The tunnel will act as a storage tank before transferring the flows to Beckton sewage works, which is being expanded by a further 60% to deal with the increased volumes.
Martin Baggs, chief executive of Thames Water, said: “It is unacceptable in modern-day London to have raw sewage entering the River Lee. The completion of this tunnelling work is an important milestone within our long-term plans to improve London’s sewer system. We’re immensely proud of this project, delivered on time and on budget, to clean up the River Lee.
As well as the clear environmental benefits, the project has provided jobs for both local people and engineering experts from across the world, allowing London to show it is a leader in engineering technology.”
The Lee Tunnel is the first of two tunnels, along with the Thames Tideway Tunnel which is currently being examined by the Planning Inspectorate, designed to combat the tens of millions of tonnes of sewage that spill into the River Thames every year.
Howard Davidson, regional director of the Environment Agency, said: “By tackling sewage discharges from London’s largest combined sewer outfall at Abbey Mills pumping station, the successful completion of the Lee Tunnel will protect ecology, tackle aesthetic pollution and minimise the health risk to people using rivers in the Lower Lee."
Programme management firm CH2MHill, along with tunnelling contractor MVB, the joint venture between civil engineering contractors Morgan Sindall, VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche, completed the tunnelling work on January 26.
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