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Lee Tunnel, London, United Kingdom

Like many rivers supplying large urban areas, the Thames was in need of major sewer works to combat pollution. The project set an example.

The Lee Tunnel, built by the MVB joint venture (which includes VINCI Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche Ltd), was officially opened at the end of 2016.

The 7 km tunnel, dug at depths ranging from 55 to 75 metres, comprises five large shafts (20 to 40 metre diameter, 75 to 100 metre depth), associated with six mega-pumps with a unit capacity of 3 cu. metres/second.

The outsized structure will reduce the amount of wastewater discharged to the Thames every year by 16 million tonnes (i.e. 40%) by capturing it at source for treatment at Europe’s largest wastewater treatment plant in Beckton.

The project continues with the Tideway programme

The success of the exemplary Lee Tunnel project was followed in mid-2015 by the award of the East works package of the Tideway programme in London to a joint venture made up of VINCI Construction Grands Projets, Costain and Soletanche Bachy’s UK subsidiary Bachy Soletanche. Work on the new 25-km tunnel got under way in early 2016. It is also designed to limit the amount of untreated wastewater discharges to the Thames.

The East works package is one of three making up the project and covers construction of two tunnel sections with lengths of 5.5 and 4.6 km to carry wastewater and rainwater from the eastern part of the capital. The contract also includes the construction of five large shafts, marine works in the Thames estuary, connections with existing water collection structures and electromechanical works.

In 2015, the Lee Tunnel received the highest distinction awarded by the Considerate Constructors Scheme (CCS), the benchmark social and environmental evaluation organisation in the United Kingdom.  

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