Articles & Case Studies

Serious Waste Management comes to the rescue after sewage system near housing fails

Posted: Monday 16th February 2009

What does a waste company do when it is faced with replacing the “guts” of a sewage treatment plant within a tight deadline to avoid school holidays, using specialist equipment that has to be ordered from Switzerland and is not able to make even a one millimetre mistake.

Serious Waste Management recently had to deal with such a dilemma in Macclesfield and the Managing Director, David Birkett, summed it up in one sentence;

“Our client breathed a sigh of relief when the unit slotted perfectly into place three days ahead of schedule”

The job was for United Utilities and the site involved an old sewage treatment plant serving a small community of just over 40 houses in Bosely near Macclesfield in Cheshire. Serious were brought in by LES Engineering Ltd in Grimsby who are one of United Utilities’ “framework” contractors.

The site was close to neighbouring housing and very compact in size, so access and logistics would prove very challenging. The initial request was that the system should be replaced with new for old but research by Serious Waste Management suggested that it would be worth considering alternative, more up-to-date technology. United Utilities were concerned that the low humming noise from that technology would disturb residents and asked Serious to look for alternatives.

“In fact, that noise is akin to a fridge humming” said David Birkett, “and as it happened, there was no option, because nothing else would fit onto the site concerned. So we managed to source and have manufactured the exact same piece of equipment, but it was going to take 10 weeks to construct, would have to come from Switzerland and we only had 11 weeks before the school holidays started, when the work had to be completed.”

Serious organised a “contract lift” from a national crane hire firm, to remove the old unit for disposal and lift the new one through the roof of the delivery trailer.

“The specialist equipment was incredibly expensive and we knew we didn’t have the time to get another made and delivered in time, so watching it being carried through the air was a very tense moment for the whole team,” added David Birkett.

In the end, all preparatory work was done in one day, the waste was tankered away so that Serious’s engineers could work without worry of incoming sewage and on day two, the new equipment arrived from Switzerland.

With the co-operation of the local residents, Serious were able to unload and send the lorry on its way in just over one hour and the 2½ tonne 4½m long rotor-disc pack was perfectly in place.

By 3.30pm on day 2, three days ahead of the original expectations of United Utilities, the replacement was complete.

Mark Brazier of United Utilites commented: “We were absolutely delighted. We knew that it was a tough job for anyone to tackle but Serious Waste Management took it on with professionalism, expertise and minimum fuss. We—and the local residents—are very grateful that they managed to deal with such a difficult job in such an effective and efficient way.”

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