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A brand new residential area containing state-of-the-art homes is being built on what used to be brownfield land in the German city of Essen. For this to happen, comprehensive remediation work had to be carried out on this attractive site along the banks of the Ruhr River – a task for REMONDIS’ company, REMEX ProTerra.
This summer, the European Commission named Essen the “European Green Capital 2017”. This title underlines the pioneering role that the city authorities are playing to reinvent itself as a ‘green city’. This also applies to the building project currently being completed along the banks of the Ruhr River.
This 45,000m² piece of land is situated in the Essen district of Kettwig, a popular place for visitors with its attractive old city centre and its location on the river. The city centre, however, had been cut off from around 600 metres of the river bank by this contaminated brownfield site. Over the years, the City of Essen had looked at ways to rectify this situation and find a new use for this area. Up until just recently, however, all attempts had failed because of the complexity of the contamination of the ground.
The history of these grounds goes back all the way to the Middle Ages when they were used as a harbour and storage area. They then gradually developed into a commercial and industrial site. From the 19th Century onwards, waste materials were repeatedly added to the ground to protect it against flooding. The result was many layers of heterogeneous waste deposits, primarily made up of fire ash, furnace slag, non-mineral waste and construction waste.
A high quality and cost-effective remediation project was successfully completed with the help of REMEX ProTerra.
The grounds remained derelict for more than two decades after the last production plant was closed down on the site in 1992. Everything changed, however, after a property development company purchased the site and began developing the grounds. REMONDIS’ company, REMEX ProTerra, was selected to help it clean up the site and has been involved in the project from the very early stages.
The company was faced with a wide range of tasks – from carrying out a detailed analysis of the actual situation, to determining remediation targets and drawing up the remediation plan, all the way through to implementing the operation including all demolition, excavation, waste management and recycling work. The project team responsible for developing the concept worked closely with the city environmental authorities throughout. All remediation phases were documented in detail and checked and approved by experts.
Remediation work to clean up the soil officially began in the autumn of 2013. One of the major challenges facing the REMEX ProTerra specialists was the five-metre thick layers of deposited waste that had gradually built up there over the decades. Chemical and physical analyses had to be carried out on each individual layer to determine their exact contents so they could – as far as possible – be separated into different material streams. Non-mineral matter was sifted out and construction waste broken up on site so that it could be used to create a base course. A total of 50,000m3 were added to the site together with earth and top soils. A further 92,000m3 of excavated contaminated material were sent for professional recycling so that it could be re-used elsewhere. Only a very small amount was sent to landfill.
Once the remediation work was successfully completed, the site was transformed into a top quality residential area. Plans are for 220 homes to be built on the grounds. The first people were able to move into their new homes in 2014. The project, which includes a variety of residential properties as well as public parks and wheelchair accessible paths to the river, is expected to have been completed by 2018. Thanks to this work, there is now nothing to stop this attractive area on the banks of the Ruhr River being used to the full.
„This Kettwig project is a perfect example of how grey can be transformed into green.“
Reinhard Paß, retired Mayor of the City of Essen