Welcome back ‘Sandy’

After 120 days and over 2800 hours of back-breaking work, United Utilities’ 23 tonne boring machine ‘Sandy’ finally completed its 270 metre journey underneath the busy M65 motorway.

The epic journey 16 metres underneath the busy motorway began on 27 July and using laser guiding and GPS location technology, Sandy’s support team managed to construct the tunnel to millimetre accuracy.

Kevin Moody, Programme Manager at United Utilities, said: “This is an exciting milestone in the mammoth Blackburn and Darwen sewer upgrade infrastructure project.

“Constructing a tunnel under a motorway safely and to absolute precision is no mean feat.  However, Sandy and our specialist engineers have worked wonders.

“We have now completed approximately 70% of the new 1.6km pipeline route, so we still have more work to do.  But now the tunnel is complete, we can connect the pipeline between Blackburn and Darwen, which is key to this project.”

The pipeline forms part of a £150 million project, aimed at improving local watercourses that are tributaries of the River Darwen, which feeds into the River Ribble.  The improvements will ultimately have environmental benefits by helping to continue the improvement of bathing waters along the Fylde coast.

Part of the project includes the installation of a revolutionary 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.

“We were the first in the UK to invest in a pilot plant for Nereda® and we’ve been hard at work testing the process at a number of our sites.

“Nereda® is a development of the conventional process for treating wastewater which has been used for over 100 years, and this new technology represents a significant and evolutionary step in wastewater treatment technology, as we continue to develop to ensure we can meet the needs of today’s population, whilst protecting the environment,” added Kevin

The project will be fully operational in 2021.