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O'Rourke JV launches Darwen TBM

27 Jul 20 A tunnel boring machine is launched underground today beneath the M65 in Darwen, Lancashire.

TBM Sandy
TBM Sandy

Tunnel bring machine (TBM) Sandy is working on United Utilities’ £150m Blackburn and Darwen wastewater upgrade scheme.

The remote-controlled 23-tonne machine is lowered by crane today to the bottom of a purpose-built shaft just off the M65 in Darwen. Over the next eight weeks she will bore a 270-metre tunnel, 16 metres underneath the motorway. It is part of the new 1.6km pipeline being laid between Blackburn and Darwen wastewater treatment works.

Sandy will be driven from above ground using laser guiding and GPS location technology by a team led by main contractor LiMA. This joint venture of Laing O'Rourke and Atkins, one of United Utilities AMP6 construction delivery partners, was appointed to the job in December 2017.

United Utilities programme manager Kevin Moody said that the TBM launch was “an exciting milestone”. He said: “The new pipeline is key to this project and we have an excellent team of specialists working with us on this particular section of the tunnel to safely get us under the motorway.”

Part of the project includes the installation of a Dutch wastewater treatment technology at Blackburn wastewater treatment works, known as Nereda. Blackburn will have the largest purpose built Nereda process plant in Europe, built within the current wastewater treatment site boundary.

The project is scheduled to be fully operational in 2021.

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