‘Beckton Becky’ ready for action in £190m sewage work upgrade

Jun 12, 2012

‘Beckton Becky’, a state-of-the-art tunnelling machine, has been lowered into position 20 metres below ground, as part of a £190m project to extend one of Europe's largest sewage treatment works. Beckton sewage works in east London is being upgraded to enable the site to treat 60 per cent more sewage, so it can fully treat increased flows during heavy rainfall, preventing the site becoming overloaded and discharging into the River Thames.

The expansion, which started in spring 2010 and is due for completion in 2014, will also enable the site to treat additional flows from the Lee Tunnel - a new four-mile sewer, currently under construction.
Beckton Becky will spend the next two months tunnelling 750 metres below the sewage works. Once complete the tunnel will transport final effluent from the new extension to meet up with the existing effluent channel on the east side of the works.
The Beckton upgrade is nearing the half-way line to completion, with almost all of the supporting foundations for the additional treatment tanks in place. A 350-strong workforce remains on site and have finished creating over half of the tanks. From March the focus of activity will be shifting from mainly civil engineering - including building foundations and tanks, to mechanical and electrical installation to get the tanks up and running.
The upgrade forms part of Thames Water's London Tideway Improvements programme, to create a cleaner, healthier River Thames.
Nick Fawcett, Thames Water’s Head of Delivery, said:
"The lowering of ‘Beckton Becky’ is another important milestone towards our goal of creating a cleaner, healthier River Thames, by dealing with the unacceptable problem of sewage discharges into the river during heavy rainfall.
"Although our sewage works operate well under stable, dry weather conditions, in heavy rainfall when the site is overwhelmed, excess flows receive a lower standard of treatment and overflow into the tidal stretches of the River Thames.
"As well as expanding the site, we’re also be erecting odour-blocking covers over all 16 primary settlement tanks at the plant - an area the size of 10 football pitches, and installing ‘odour-control units’ at the site to clean outgoing air, so we can substantially reduce odour emissions.”
The London Tideway Improvements programme is made up of three major schemes - the £635m Lee Tunnel, the proposed Thames Tunnel and the £675m Sewage Works Upgrades to improve London's five major sewage works – Beckton, Crossness, Mogden, Riverside and Long Reach - so they can treat more waste, preventing them becoming overloaded in rainfall, and improving the quality to which sewage is treated, to further improve river water quality.
Tamesis – a Joint Venture between Laing O’Rourke and IMTECH is working with Thames Water to extend Beckton. The tunnel shaft was created by Joseph Gallagher Group.

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