UK’s largest asbestos removal projects at Millennium Mills

Rhodar was commissioned by The Silvertown Partnership as Principal Contractor, as part of the £3.5billion Docklands Silvertown Regeneration project to oversee the process of returning the Millennium Mills building back to its original structural shell.  This is in preparation for its development into a multi-use centre for new business and enterprise.  Throughout 2015, Rhodar successfully removed a range of hazardous materials, using specialist techniques that ensured many of the original building features could be retained. Amongst other waste and recyclables, this resulted in the removal of over 660 tonnes of Asbestos Containing Materials (ACMs) over a 10 month programme period. 

The iconic former flour mill is located on the Royal Docks alongside London Excel, the City Airport and the Thames Barrier. The sheer size and scale of the mill meant Rhodar had an extremely challenging task on their hands, but one that they mastered from the outset; through intricate planning and multi-disciplined, standard-setting methods. The 11-storey industrial mill occupies 55,000 cubic meters and sits within a site spanning 50 acres, it has been referred to as the last ‘part of the jigsaw’ for the regeneration of East London. On completion, the building is set to house half a million square feet for commerce and industry in the heart of the Docklands.

At the beginning of the project, a number of challenges presented themselves, the entire building was structurally unsound and an extremely hazardous environment. Before any activities could commence, all openings, drops and unsafe flooring had to be identified and then made safe for working. Rhodar achieved this by engaging with structural engineers so that a sequential working plan could be agreed and implemented.

Due to the enormity and complex structure of the building, it needed to be split into three different zones: A, B and C, so that work could be run in the most efficient way – sequentially from top to bottom - through a detailed programme of scaffolding, pre-cleaning, dismantling, asbestos removal works and demolition of internal walls and floors. In order to preserve the heritage of the building and to follow the architectural design specifications, some of the most historical features, such as the existing mill equipment and delicate sought-after fixtures had to be carefully removed and reinstated as part of the development. The video captures perfectly the specialist techniques used on such a large scale to achieve these working plans.

Rhodar’s large workforce utilised a precision ‘dustless blasting’ technique to facilitate the skilled asbestos removal process. This type of process uses specialist recycled substrates and was the most effective and efficient method to remove asbestos paint coatings on such a large scale; stripping back the surface of the walls and ceilings to the required ‘raw’ state.

Jason Davy, Managing Director, Rhodar commented:

 “This has been a fantastic project for Rhodar. We are proud to be responsible for one of the biggest asbestos removal jobs in the UK, especially at such a prestigious and iconic location. We chose to capture the intricate processes applied on site via this video, to demonstrate our multi-disciplinary capabilities on such a large-scale complex project.

We want the video to be an historical reference that shows how Millennium Mills preserved its distinctive identity within the Docklands landscape. The successful conclusion of this asbestos removal phase by our company completes stage-one of the redevelopment of this historic site and is a key step towards the realisation of the overall Silvertown docklands vision over the next decade.”

Simon Webster, CEO at the Silvertown Partnership, said:

“Millennium Mills is an iconic building with a rich heritage and history. We’re proud to give it a new lease of life through a sensitive restoration. Once complete, the building will be restored to retain its art deco frontage, high ceilings and industrial charm. The completion of this huge asbestos removal job is the first step in the journey towards this.”

Summary of Key Project Statistics
Material removed:
53,000m² of asbestos containing paint via ‘precision dustless blasting’
5,600m² of timber floors
2,040m² of internal brick walls
700 tonnes of mill equipment

424 tonnes of recycled glass blast-media used

Waste material:
660 tonnes of asbestos contaminated waste

Recycled material:
160 tonnes of Timber Waste
700 tonnes of Metal Waste
650 tonnes of Brick Rubble 
170 tonnes of General Waste

90 staff worked on the site during the peak period