Theodora the Borer starts two-mile sewer

May 14, 2009

Work to bore a two-mile (3.3km) tunnel under West Ham in London started April 27 as part of a £65million scheme to protect more than 600 homes from the misery of sewer flooding. The sewer, 2.8 metres in diameter and running 20 metres below ground from Thames Water's Abbey Mills sewage pumping station to Earlham Grove in Forest Gate, E7, is set for completion in Spring 2010.

Steve Lousley, Thames Water's project manager, said:
"More than 600 properties in this area have suffered sewer flooding in recent years as climate change leads to less frequent but heavier rainfalls which can overwhelm the sewer system as it feeds into already-full drains."

"Sewer flooding is extremely unpleasant. That's why we're putting Forest Gate residents' minds at rest by boring a tunnel ? one you could drive a large van down - to take increased sewage flows to Abbey Mills pumping station during times of heavy rainfall."

The tunnel will link with the existing sewer network by taking sewage flows directly to Abbey Mills. In addition, three miles (5km) of sewers leading to the tunnel will be enlarged and modernised under the scheme.

Councillor Ian Corbett, Newham Council's executive member for the public realm, said:
"We welcome this scheme to modernise the sewers in West Ham which will help protect households from the misery of sewer flooding. We're working closely with Thames Water to ensure this vital work is carried out with the minimum of disruption to motorists and residents."

The TBM (tunnel-boring machine) being used was named "Theodora" by a pupil from nearby St Antony's Primary School in Forest Gate.

Eileen Edusah, 10, said:
"I called the TBM Theodora because that's my mum's name and I think it's nice."
Other names considered included Beyonce, Leona and Alexandra.

The TBM, the 250th made by Canada-based firm Lovat, has had its name painted in red across its side. Costain, the UK construction firm, has been awarded the contract to run this project.

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