A major project to clean up Europe’s most polluted site has made a breakthrough as specialist equipment to clean the most toxic waste is no longer needed.
The Avenue Project’s bid to transform the former coking works into usable land has seen 402,000 tonnes of toxic waste made safe using a Thermal Desorption Unit (TDU).
But 15 years after work started on the Wingerworth site, the TDU has been switched off and is now being dismantled. Work will continue on the less polluted parts of the site by composting the soils to allow naturally occurring bacteria to make them safe.
Rob Pearson, of the Homes and Communities Agency, who are funding the project, said: “The closure of the TDU is fantastic as it allows us to concentrate on the future by providing homes and jobs for local people. We have recently obtained extra funding to deliver junction improvement on the A61 to support the plans for 469 new homes.”
MPs Natascha Engel and Toby Perkins were present for the switch off. Natascha, said: “The future now certainly looks brighter for the Avenue.”
Toby Perkins, added: “It is great that the most difficult stage of the cleanup is complete and residents in south and west Chesterfield will be pleased that no more grey smoke will emanate from the plant.”
North East Derbyshire District council have approved plans for 469 new homes, a primary school and community facilities on the site.
The construction of the road will start this year followed by building the first homes which will begin in 2016.
The Avenue is 240 acres.
It took 760 men to build the original coking works.
The plant employed around 800 people.
When operating at full capacity, the coking works carbonised 2,175 tons of coal a day – producing approximately:
1,400 tons of smokeless fuel,
65 tons of sulphuric acid,
35 tons of ammonium sulphate,
20,000 gallons of crude benzole and 250 tons of tar.