Harwell

Quiet Please, Demolition in Progress!

  

 

Not many UKAEA restoration projects take place in the centre of a peaceful village, with the sound of church bells in the background, but that was the case for the demolition of a water treatment works in the Oxfordshire village of Sutton Courtney.

Before:

View of the main Filter House before the start of demolition.

View of the main Filter House before the start of demolition.

 

During:

The Filter House during demolition of the water filters.

The Filter House during demolition of the water filters.

 

After:

A view across the site with the works complete.

A view across the site with the works complete.

UKAEA operated the works from 1949 until 1995,when demand for water for the Harwell site declined to the point when adequate supplies could be obtained from the mains. In its heyday, the works could provide up to one million gallons of water a day from the River Thames via a 10km pipeline.

There were three main buildings: the Pump/Filter House, the Purification House and the Substation Building, as well as holding tanks and a lagoon. Water from the Thames was fed under gravity in a large main under the village to the works.

The main treated water tanks were so big they resembled a succession of underground rooms. They presented a potentially serious risk to anyone entering the site unauthorised. Despite steps being taken to secure the building and daily security patrols, there had been break-ins at the site. So in late 2001, following a competitive exercise, UKAEA awarded a contract to Callaghan Demolition Ltd to demolish the buildings of the former water treatment plant, backfill the underground tanks and clear the surrounding land areas. Glanville Consultants undertook supervision of the works at the site.

The location of the works presented the demolition team with challenges not usually encountered in UKAEA projects. Because of the quiet nature of the area, with the church and residential properties close by, a key objective of the contract was to minimise disturbance to the local community. To achieve this, working hours were restricted and the plan used was chosen to ensure noise and vibration levels were kept to a minimum.

A quieter, lightweight crusher was brought in and noise and vibration limits were agreed in advance with the local authority and continuously monitored. The restricted access to the site meant that there were limitations on the size of plant that could be used. Crushed brick and concrete were used to fill the tanks, to minimise the need for traffic movements along the village lane.

The project began in January 2002 and was completed in May. The buildings proved to be very solidly built, with some tough concrete and extensive steel reinforcing. Steel sheet piling, not marked on the drawings, surrounded the water tanks under the Pump/Filter House. However, the project team worked together to safely tackle these problems with minimal delay to the programme.

The demolition of the buildings at Sutton Courtney Water Works has removed both an eyesore and a potential safety hazard. It marks a major step forward in UKAEA's restoration programme for the site. The whole project team worked hard to minimise the impact of the work on local residents, and good relations were maintained throughout.