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The Gallery | Massive machine positioned for Lee Tunnel

An 8m diameter tunnel boring machine (TBM) was yesterday lowered into a vast shaft, the deepest structure in London, in preparation to start work creating the 6.4km long Lee Tunnel.

The MVB consortium, comprising Morgan Sindall, Vinci Construction Grands Projets and Bachy Soletanche, is working with Thames Water to build the £635M tunnel. Once completed, it will prevent 16M.t of sewage entering the River Lee each year — a result of the capital’s Victorian sewers not being big enough to cope with heavy rainfall.

“This is a major milestone on our way to creating a cleaner, healthier River Thames and River Lee, by dealing with the unacceptable problem of sewer discharges into the river during heavy rainfall,” said Thames Water chief executive Martin Baggs. “The Lee Tunnel is the first of two tunnels, which will collectively capture an average of 39M.t a year of sewage from London’s 35 most polluting combined sewer overflows.”

The Lee Tunnel will tackle discharges from the largest overflow at Abbey Mills in Stratford, which accounts for 40%.

“That’s why we’re dealing with this, the worst one, first,” added Baggs.

 
 

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