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Solving Paris’ waste problem
24/1/05
A German-French contracting jv is constructing a 1km long, 31m-deep basement to house a new waste management facility close to the heart of Paris

Take the left bank travelling west from the centre of Paris, and a kilometre or so past the Eiffel Tower you’ll pass some well-established cement works sandwiched in between the river bank and road.

This little stretch of urban industrial activity on Roosevelt Quay is presently overshadowed by activities on the other side of the road where construction is underway of an enormous new waste-to-energy plant that will handle the detritus from more than a million of Paris’ inhabitants.

Client Syctom’s Isseane facility will have the capacity to treat 460,000t of household waste and 55,000t of industrial waste a year, when it is fully open at the end of 2007.

The new plant replaces an existing facility whose tall chimney dominants the skyline of Paris’ western suburbs. In contrast, the emphasis at Isseane is very much on minimising environmental impact – both visually and operationally. The new facility will be just three stories high and all that will be visible above ground level is a modern architect-designed office and administrative block.

There will be no chimney and no release of water-cooling vapour. In fact liberal planting of trees and clever landscaping coupled with the light and airy low-rise glass-clad superstructure, should result – at least according to the architect’s impressions – in a finished project that looks more like a park than a waste processing facility. Syctom has dubbed its development a “green factory”.

The site is nevertheless huge, measuring approximately 300m by 1000m, and with a design that requires a 31m-deep basement in which to house the processing plant, the project must be one of the largest foundation contracts underway in the world.

Unsurprisingly then, the foundation work is being carried by a joint venture made up of some of Europe’s leading geotechnical contractors. France’s Soletanche-Bachy and Germany’s Bilfinger Berger both make up 35 per cent of the “special foundations” jv contractor; while French companies Spie Foundations and SEFI each input another 15 per cent.

Thies Helbig, project manager with Soletanche Bachy – which acts as the jv’s “technical pilot” – says they are working as a fully integrated joint venture, sharing both personnel and equipment.

“It’s not like we’re doing this section and Bilfinger Berger is tackling that,” he says. “We are totally mixed.” This, he maintains is an interesting challenge but one that has provided clear advantages once the initial hurdle of cultural differences was resolved: “We’ve found that we complement each other very well” the philosophy on this site is we are acting as one family.”

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