Legacy is term we have heard a lot about in relation to the Olympics, but one benefit of the Games coming to Stratford in East London is that the land there will be a lot cleaner than it was before the development started. And it has all been done in a ‘green’ way, by remediation rather the disposing of waste to landfill. Pretty much like our repair skills at Plastic Surgeon avoid unwanted, or damaged building products, going the same way. Our repair work, effectively, avoids doors, windows, cills, bricks, baths, basins and kitchen worktops from being skipped.
Rob McCarthy, the Environment Agency’s Olympics account manager, said: “Whether it was in the last few years or a century ago, you’ve had chemical storage, soap factories, tanneries – all the industries that people don’t like in their backyards, that had moved out to East London. There were heavy metals, hydrocarbons, arsenic and cyanide at certain levels in the ground.”
One arm of the years-long partnership between the agency and the Olympics Delivery Authority (ODA) has been a clean up on a massive scale. Junk was first removed by hand. Then a giant piece of machinery known as a soil washer was installed on site.
Altogether, two million tonnes of earth and stone have been through the machine and stripped of its contaminants. The cleansed material has been used on site – amounting to about 95% of the total needed. To draw a parallel, at the time of writing this blog, we at Plastic Surgeon have saved 179,913.88 kilograms of waste from going to landfill so far this year.
“You get a win-win out of this re-use of soil on site because you don’t have the lorry movements back and forth,” says Chris Smith, chairman of the Environment Agency.
“You don’t send vast quantities of semi-contaminated soil to landfill sites around the country, and you can have a much more sensible process that re-uses and recycles.”
And potentially a much cheaper process too, as everything that goes into landfill sites these days has a tax attached.
Meanwhile our repair service saves our clients one pound out of three they spend – purely in terms of components – on their projects across the UK. The saving on the labour of replacement is generally even higher, but varies depending on the extent to which the damage item is ‘built in’.
Meanwhile, water from the River Lea is still being pumped out, cleaned, and pumped back down again. As a result, the Lea itself, which used to be one of the most polluted rivers in the country, is now far friendlier to nature than it was, and will make a “wildlife corridor”, linking Hackney Marshes to the north with the Thames, reconnecting populations of animals and plants that have been separated for a century by concrete and industry.
Returning to landfill tax, which has been the cause of increasing fly tipping, or the burning of toxic items like uPVC doors or windows, in the attempt to dodge this tax, then it must be good for wildlife that our repair service avoids these environmentally unfriendly practices. Plus, of course, you don’t have to transport items to landfill, via diesel lorries, spewing out their cancer producing micro-particulates – another plus for repair – or recycle – rather than dump.
Part of the sustainable strategy for the 2012 facilities has been for the buildings to be designed to use energy-intense materials as sparingly as possible. Plastic Surgeon echoes this ethos: not only cutting embodied energy and the use of raw materials through repair, but being able to quantify these achievements through our unique VisibilITy software.
With one of the commissioners resigning in protest at certain materials for one of the stadia being procured from a chemical company connected to a leak of poisonous gas which killed thousands in the eighties, we are proud to be as clean and green as the Olympics aspires to be.