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See what happens to your rubbish
3:30pm Wednesday 14th August 2013 in News
IT handles 180,000 tonnes of rubbish every year and produces enough electricity to power 22,600 homes.
Now people living in the Southampton and New Forest area can see what happens to their household waste once it has been collected by council dustcarts as the Marchwood Energy Recovery Facility, otherwise known as the Marchwood Dome, opens its doors.
Visitors will be given a rare opportunity to take a behind-the-scenes tour of the £50m complex, which aims to minimise the amount of non-recyclable rubbish sent to landfill sites.
A constant stream of lorries start arriving at the site from 10am each day.
The vehicles reverse into the building and tip their loads into a huge concrete bunker big enough to contain four days’ supply of waste. Its sheer size enables the plant to operate over Christmas and Easter periods, when fewer refuse collections take place.
Giant cranes haul the rubbish out of the bunker and drop it into feed hoppers.
The automated operation is monitored from a neighbouring control room by staff sitting in two Captain Kirk-style chairs with large control panels on each armrest.
Computer screens show a vast array of complex data, including the plant’s emission levels.
The rubbish is sent to two furnaces and incinerated at temperatures of almost 1,000 degrees – hot enough to destroy any hazardous material.
Gases produced by the combustion process are fed through a boiler that turns water into steam. A turbo-generator then uses the steam to produce electricity for the National Grid.
Marchwood and two similar plants in Portsmouth and Chineham, near Basingstoke, create enough power to supply 53,000 homes.
Visible for miles around, the main building is 32 metres tall, 90 metres across and includes a chimney that soars 60 metres into the sky.
The complex is operated by Veolia Environmental Services, which hopes the open day will prove as popular as similar events in the past. Keely Gallagher, the company’s regional communications manager, said: “We like to show people what happens to their waste once it has been collected from their dustbin.
“We also like to reassure them that it’s being used to provide electricity and is not just going to landfill.”
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