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There are very few sites in Duisburg that have caused more controversy than the city’s former freight train depot. A whole number of plans have been drawn up for this 35-hectare plot of land situated between the A59 motorway and Duisburg’s main railway station since it was decommissioned in 1996. These have included plans for a new stadium, a shopping centre, the “Duisburger Freiheit” [Duisburg Freedom] project, a furniture store as well as a designer outlet. In 2010, the site made the headlines for all the wrong reasons after a number of people tragically died following a stampede at the Love Parade being held there. It is now time for new beginnings. “This is where the future starts,” commented the Mayor of Duisburg, Sören Link. The goal: to create a modern city district with residential, commercial and leisure opportunities.
Being such a politically sensitive site, a variety of consultations were first held involving a number of high-profile people working for the City of Duisburg including Mayor Sören Link, the leaders of the CDU and SPD parties and the managing director of GEBAG. This process ended with the contract for the extensive demolition work at the old train depot being awarded to Servicebetriebe Duisburg GmbH (SBD), a public private partnership between REMONDIS and Wirtschaftsbetriebe Duisburg that serves several municipal key accounts including the land developers, GEBAG. The old railway building has already been removed from the latest animated 3D model on the ‘www.am-alten-gueterbahnhof.de’ website. In reality, though, the demolition activities have been a huge challenge as the work has involved handling large volumes of hazardous materials.
Daniel Kratz, operations manager at SBD, explained: “You can’t simply just rip down the buildings. Everything has had to be carefully dismantled bit by bit.” The demolition project began back in May and the work above ground has almost been completed. To begin with, the asbestos cement tiles and PAH-contaminated sheeting had to be removed from the roof, before the frame of the roof could be taken apart and sent for recycling. Another complex task included removing the tarmac and the platforms section by section. To make the dismantling process as safe as possible, the PCB-contaminated paint was first stripped off the walls before they were taken down. The pipes were freed of their synthetic mineral fibre (SMF) covering in a separate step before they, too, were dismantled. “These were not simple tasks and the work on the building’s foundations has been particularly complex, as well,” Daniel Kratz continued. He has, he said, been particularly grateful for the support of Patricia Pardulla, who has been acting as a go-between to access the specialist knowledge needed across the REMONDIS Group. The project’s remit also involved carrying out an extensive examination of the site to check for old weapons. At one stage, the A59 motorway had to be closed with the help of the ‘Straßen NRW’ Highways Agency.
Daniel Kratz, Operations Manager at SBD
“One of the buildings was unable to be taken down before the damage in its basement – caused by an old fire – had been redressed. We were able to call on REMONDIS Industrie Service at short notice here to help us remove the water used to extinguish the fire as well as an old oil tank,” said Daniel Kratz. On top of this, the company had to deal with some less common types of waste, such as drug-related litter left behind by the drug addicts who had, for many years, sought shelter in the basement of the old freight train depot. REMONDIS Medison provided the specialist support needed here.
A very strict safety concept has been drawn up for the whole of the remediation project, not least because of the Love Parade tragedy. This covers both the employees and machinery deployed on site as well as the way the wastes are handled, including all materials that require permanent supervision. SBD has, for example, used a robot to perform tasks in one particular area where there was a danger of the building collapsing. A team of 20 people work at the old freight depot site every day. With the help of six special vehicles, a screening machine and a crusher, they are working flat out to get the job done.
Transporting the many different waste fractions from the site has also been a great logistical challenge, as Patricia Pardulla, a key account manager at REMONDIS West, explained: “Months of planning were needed to organise the dismantling work and the transport and treatment of all the waste materials. Our goal has always been to complete the work safely in as short as time as possible as well as to recycle as many of the materials as possible.” Throughout, SBD and its client, GEBAG, have been able to rely both on the REMONDIS Group’s robust logistics systems and on its extensive network of branches and facilities.
Each day, a whole range of different kinds of materials are transported away from the premises in skips and containers. By the end of this project, these will have included 430 tonnes of waste timber, 330 tonnes of asbestos-contaminated building materials, 600 tonnes of roofing felt, 30 tonnes of bulky waste, 15 tonnes of PCB-contaminated building and demolition waste, 26 tonnes of SMF, 26 tonnes of waste plaster and 1,000 tonnes of old metal. The only materials left on site are mineral wastes. The aim here is for these to be broken up and – ideally – recycled so that they can re-used for the redevelopment of the area. Samples of all the materials are taken and examined regularly by UCL, a REMONDIS company providing environmental testing and analysis services.
The redevelopment plans should have been completed by summer 2021. By then, Daniel Kratz, Patricia Pardulla and their partners will have finished their work – paving the way for a modern district in Duisburg.
Patricia Pardulla, Project Manager at REMONDIS, and Daniel Kratz, Operations Manager at SBD, are responsible for running the project to dismantle the former freight train depot on Duisburg’s Love Parade site