Frontline – Camlet Way, Hadley Wood, Hertfordshire

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The McAllister Group’s UK Rehabilitation team was on site in leafy Hertfordshire on the 20th June tasked with relining two sewers which lie above the Hadley Wood Tunnel. The tunnel lies on the route from King’s Cross to Shaftholme Junction where trains can reach speeds up to 115m per hour at this point. The two sewers lie just above the railway tunnels – one was a 225mm clay Surface Water sewer which crosses over the Great Northern Railway (East Coast Mail Line) Hadley Wood tunnel which was built in 1850. In 1959 the railway was widened from two to four tracks with the addition of a second tunnel. There is a parallel 225mm clay foul sewer which also crosses the track. Both sewers are 5m in depth but do not pass under the railway. Their proximity to the tunnels are perhaps the cause of the number of breaks, fractures and deformations in the sewers which have occurred from ground movement. The sewers were probably constructed after the original 1850 tunnel, perhaps from 1885 when the area development began but certainly before the commencement of the 1958 second tunnel construction works.

CCTV surveying of the sewers highlighted heavy build-up of calcium scale from the joints. If untreated this calcite build-up can cause multiple problems including reducing the diameter of the sewer by as much as 90% with the formation of both stalactites and stalagmites. In both sewers, the calcite build-up had hardened sufficiently for our team to deploy the robotic cutter. Once removed our team was able to swiftly install 70 m and 90m of 225mm CIPP liner to rehabilitate both sewers. In just over a decade the McAllister Group UK operation has firmly cemented its reputation as an Industry specialist in the rehabilitation of sewer networks for major utility and transport clients.

If not Drains, then why not Trains!

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The McAllister Group’s operations are broad and diverse – both in terms of our service offer and geographical coverage. The image depicted above highlights one of the more unusual tasks we undertake throughout the year and which also provides a glimpse into our Industrial past. The McAllister Group provides a tanker filled with water to the steam-hauled excursion train – The Portrush Flyer at Central Station in Belfast for its outbound and inbound journeys during the summer months. Looking not unlike the famed Thomas the Tank Engine, the 4-4-0 three-cylinder compound locomotive was built in 1932 in Manchester by Beyer, Peacock and Co. Ltd.

The blue steam-engine number 85 with factory plate number 6733 was named Merlin after a bird of prey by its operator the Great Northern Railway (Ireland) Ltd as were the other four V Class locomotives. The V Class was intended for use on the accelerated Dublin – Belfast route but experienced many teething troubles which ultimately caused its demise. In 1958, No. 85 Merlin was given to Córas Iompair Éireann following the split in the Great Northern Railway Board. Set to be scrapped like the other V Class engines, Merlin was rescued by the Ulster Folk and Transport Museum in 1965. In the interim years, the engine has been housed in a number of different locations including Harland & Woolf. The engine was returned to active service in 2014 and is used by the Railway Preservation Society of Ireland/Steam Trains Ireland for excursions during the summer for families and enthusiasts. Visit

Beware the FOG and the FATBERG!

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At some point, many of us have without thinking have emptied fat or grease down our kitchen sinks. Repeating this carelessness on a regular basis can over time restrict the flow of wastewater from our homes to sewer lines resulting in blockages and back-ups from the sewers. Fats, oils and grease (FOG) when poured or flushed down sinks, drains or toilets enter the sewer system where they cool, harden and subsequently stick to the inner walls of sewer pipes. If untreated, the build-up of FOG in a pipe can harden until it completely blocks the diameter of the pipe. When it hardens, it is both difficult and costly to remove FOG obstructions. The build-up of FOG can be a major problem in town centres or areas with multiple restaurants, takeaways or pubs since there is more grease heading down into the sewers to create the deposits. In some areas where the FOG build-up is extreme, Fatbergs can emerge.

In the sewer pipe, the fats in the grease get broken down into their component parts – glycerol and fatty acids. The fatty acids bind with calcium found in the sewers to create a compound which resembles a soap-like compound. This ‘soapy’ compound collects on the ceiling of the pipes when sewer levels rise to form stalactite structures. The net effect is extremely detrimental to the sewer network particularly when it ends up in Waste water Pumping Stations and Treatment Plants. Fatbergs can like their namesakes grow to a remarkable size. In recent years, reports suggest that two Fatbergs were discovered in London’s sewer network weighing 15 and 17 tonnes respectively.

Heavy rainfall will compound the problem of FOG build-up and result in flooding and extreme blockages. In one case, the build-up was so severe that it blew manholes covers upwards spewing sewage and waste outwards.

In simple terms, don’t empty fats, oils or grease down the sink or drain. If you are a food service operator, it is recommended to regularly check out the health of your drains through a CCTV survey and frequent cleaning. The McAllister Group is a drain specialist and have dealt with FOG problems across Ireland and the UK. If you have any concerns or problems, please call us today. The imagery below was recently taken at one of our out-of-hours call outs and was captured in the news: –

Frontline – Termon Road, Carrickmore, Co. Tyrone

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Frontline – Termon Road, Carrickmore, Omagh. Our rehabilitation team was on site yesterday at Termon Road in the townland of Carrickmore outside Omagh, Co. Tyrone working on behalf of the River’s Agency. The task was to reline a 20m pipe running under the road using 1200mm Cured in Place Pipe (CIPP) liner. The liner itself weighed approximately 2 tonnes which necessitated the liner in its packaging being craned into the immediate area where the work was to take place. The team overcame some access problems and managed to sandbag a river to allow the liner to be installed, inflated, cured and cut flush at both ends of the pipe. The images below depict the process involved. Rehabilitating pipes allows for defects to be corrected and the cured liner (using an Ultra-Violet lightrain) will extend the lifespan of the pipe by as much as 75 years. On the island of Ireland, the McAllister Group is one of the foremost specialists in the use of trenchless or No-Dig technologies such as CIPP lining. Our experience and client base extends across infratructure, industrial, commercial and residential applications.

High Risk Confined Space Rescue Training

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Employers must carry out a suitable and sufficient assessment of the risks for all work activities to decide what measures are necessary for safety (under the Management of Health and Safety at Work Regulations 1999, regulation 3). When working in confined spaces this means identifying the hazards present, assessing the risks and determining what precautions to take. In most cases the assessment will include consideration of: the task; the working environment; working materials and tools; the suitability of those carrying out the task and the arrangements for emergency rescue.

Working in confined spaces exposes an employee to a range of potential hazards, some of which may threaten injury and in some instances may possibly lead to death. As a consequence, specialist training and assessment is required to equip those undertaking this type of work with the necessary skills and competencies to assess risk, control hazards and to work safely. A space given high risk rating is classified as having a hazard that cannot be controlled or eliminated. Therefore any individual entering these areas must be trained in dealing with the specified hazard and protective equipment is more important than ever. In these spaces, there may or may not be access issues. Due to their unpredictable nature, extra caution should be taken, rescue staff should always be at hand and every possible eventuality must be considered.

As part of the McAllister Group’s investment in its people, a number of staff recently completed High Risk Confined Space (NC4) and the High Risk Confined Space Rescue training in Antrim in conjunction with Highway Safety & Construction Training Ltd. The three-day course involves training on Access Equipment (Tripod & Winch system, Full Duration BA), Confined Space Rescue harnesses, Atmospheric monitoring equipment, Ventilation, the use of Emergency Escape Breathing Apparatus and Self Contained Breathing Apparatus (short/standard and extended duration sets and/or airline supply systems), Breathing Apparatus control procedures and the duties of the Top Man/Person (Safety Attendant), Rescue Team member and Rescue Team leader. This course relates directly to aspects of the Group’s project work including: Wet Wells, Tanks, Sewer Networks amongst others.

In Northern Ireland, the McAllister Group is the only company fully qualified to undertake rescues within confined spaces under high risk circumstances.

Frontline – Guernsey Airport

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The McAllister Group was engaged by Lagan Construction to complete a series of CIPP patch repairs to the runway and taxiing lanes at Guernsey Airport. This was our second consecutive visit in recent years to address surface water issues which we had previously ascertained was a consequence of problems with sections of the drainage system that were deformed (perhaps as a result of concrete crushing pipes).

At the outset, the pipes needed to be cleaned before a CCTV survey could be undertaken. The camera survey identified and verified the areas where the defects were located confirming the views of the client. In advance of works, our pre-conditioning tasks included the deployment of our brand new Recycler to remove 2.5 tonnes of silt and shingle from the surface water system in conjunction with our Main Line CCTV Survey unit. Once we established and agreed the locations requiring patching with the client, our team installed a total of 27 patches, each 450mm x 1000mm. In tandem with the repairs, the McAllister Team plotted the exact location of several connections that were patched over and subsequently reopened upon completion of the works. We benefited from using our state-of-the-art equipment including new CCTV equipment, our new Recycling Unit and our Prokasro robotic cutting vehicle.

The works were completed at night over a nine day period during which the airport was closed. Each morning our team had to hand back the runway and taxiing lanes by 6am without delay or incident. The contract was completed within submitted programme duration parameters without issue and to the full satisfaction of the client.

Over the last five years, the Group has developed considerable expertise and experience of working on timebound and complex projects within airport environments. With these projects there is a necessity to avoid disrupting traffic, avoid incidents and to restore the site to an operational level on a daily basis. Our previous experience includes Belfast International Airport, Dublin Airport, Shannon Airport, Guernsey Airport, George Best Belfast City Airport and the City of Derry Airport. The McAllister Group will be commencing work in June 2017 at Heathrow Airport.

Frontline – Shankill, Dublin

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One of our Rehabilitation Teams was on site in Shankill, Dublin this week. The job on behalf of Irish Water involved the installation of 29 CIPP patches to 525mm pipes to prevent Root Infiltration on a main truck sewer which runs to a pumping station. Further works will require the installation of 180m of UV CIPP liner to the same stretch of pipe. The McAllister Group is one of the foremost specialists in the application of CIPP applications on the island of Ireland and Great Britain. Cured-In-Place Pipe is one of a number of Trenchless Solutions offered by the Group. Use of Trenchless or No-Dig applications does not require excavation to rehabilitate a pipeline that is either leaking or structurally unsound. When cured it can extend the lifespan of a pipe by as much as 75 years.

Mental Health Awareness Week 8th – 14th May 2017

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This week May 8th – 14th is Mental Health Awareness Week 2017 which has as its theme –  ‘Surviving or Thriving?‘. Mental health problems are commonplace in the workplace and have been cited as the leading cause of sickness absence. It is estimated that a staggering 70 million work days are lost annually due to mental health problems in the UK, costing employers approximately £2.4 billion per year. A recently released report by the Mental Health Foundation into the mental health of the nation outlined that: –

  • Only a small minority of people (13%) report living with high levels of good mental health
  • People over the age of 55 report experiencing better mental health than average
  • People aged >55 are the most likely to take positive steps to help themselves deal better with everyday life – including spending time with friends and family, going for a walk, spending more time on interests, getting enough sleep, eating healthily and learning new things
  • More than 4 in 10 people say they have experienced depression
  • 1 in 4 say they have experienced panic attacks
  • Nearly two-thirds of people say that they have experienced a mental health problem. This rises to 7 in every 10 women, young adults aged 18-34 and people living alone.

A stigma remains in society about mental health issues but as the statistics suggest mental health problems affects a significant proportion of the population and these issues can have a detrimental impact on employees which in turn can impact adversely in the workplace. The McAllister Group recently launched an initiative focussed on employee Health & Well-Being in conjunction with consultants Health Matters. The results of a staff survey emphasised several areas where support and advice would be welcomed in respect to medical concerns, the promotion of healthy living/lifestyles and stress management.

The company’s resultant action plan has specific sections where there is an undertaking to address mental health concerns from employees including work-related stress. Subsequently the action plan will detail the best means to communicate with staff and identify the most appropriate platforms to proactively respond to situations or circumstances where the mental well-being of an employee has been challenged. Following the implementation of the action plan and feedback, the McAllister Group’s HSEQ Manager will seek to formulate a Stress and Mental Health Policy in conjunction with Health Matters.

For more information on the report by the Mental Health Foundation ‘Surviving or Thriving: The state of the UK’s Mental Health’ visit and for details on events and stories visit on Twitter #mentalhealthawarenessweek

Health & Well-Being in the Workplace

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Unless one is extremely fortunate, the majority of us need to work to support ourselves and our families and to have the disposable income to actively enjoy our leisure time. Work provides many people with a sense of self, status and a source of friendship – all of which can have an impact on one’s sense of well-being and health. Over the last two decades, greater consideration has been placed on the well-being of employees and several studies undertaken to ascertain the impact of psychosocial factors on the health of employees including stress, anxiety and depression. Why is this important? Changes in technology, the nature and pace of work and the blurring of what constitutes ‘work’ and ‘home life’ has placed greater emphasis on understanding emotional and mental health. Whilst Health and Safety at work will always remain paramount, employers have been looking at the benefits of increasing the sense of well-being in the workplace given that this heightened state has been linked to higher levels of productivity, creativity, quality, innovation, reliability as well as better communications, stronger relationships and unity of purpose.

Reflecting the company’s commitment to its employees and to the process of continuous improvement, the McAllister Group recently teamed up with health & safety training consultancy, Health Matters to introduce a scheme aimed at improving workplace health and well-being. Employees were asked to complete an online confidential questionnaire which posed a series of questions about their lifestyle particularly in relation to healthy eating, work-related stress, alcohol consumption, smoking, back pain and health & safety. Topline elements emerging from the report suggest staff were very interested in finding out more about cancer awareness and healthy eating as well as initiatives aimed at increasing physical activity and managing weight. In advance of the summer, McAllister Group will produce an action plan aimed at integrating the findings of the report into a holistic health and well-being programme which will include talks about cancer prevention/screenings, smoking cessation initiatives and a staff Fit Club.

Watch this space!

New addition to the McAllister Group Fleet

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The McAllister Group recently took delivery of a brand new model JHL 414 RECycler®  as part of the Group’s continued investment in cutting-edge technology to underpin its GB operations. The JHL 414 RECycler® is fully computerised offering greater efficiency to the Operator as the RECycler® cleans the jetting water continuously while the operator is performing the sewer cleaning tasks. The manufacturer suggests that case studies have shown an 60% efficiency saving due to moveable partition technology which allows for better separation water from waste and continuous operation. The moveable partition and continuous recycling system makes the RECycler® the most efficient, reliable and environmentally friendly recycling unit on the market. The RECycler® is also advantageous for the sewer lines because the clean water causes less wear and stress on the pipes; this is particularly relevant when working on sewer pipes in areas with older and densely populated city sections.

The JHL 414 RECycler® will be deployed across Group operations in the UK and Ireland.


What lies beneath….

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At Broadway, close to the Royal Group of Hospitals you will see the dramatic sculpture which has become affectionately known locally as ‘The Balls at the Falls’. The sculpture which is officially entitled ‘Rise‘ by English Artist Wolfgang Buttress was erected in 2011 at Broadway Roundabout. More than 85,000 thousand cars pass the sculpture on a daily basis oblivious to what lies underneath the sculpture.

Deep underground is a tunnel at which the Rivers Blackstaff and Clowney converge before dividing. The Blackstaff flooded in 1952 causing significant damage in the Tate’s Avenue area of South Belfast. To contain any further overflow, a relief culvert was built at Broadway to change the course of the river. The original river runs North towards the city centre under the Europa Bus Centre and the BBC Blackstaff Studios towards the Gasworks off Cromac Street. The diverted river course takes it towards the Lagan River at Botanic.

Our shot depicts a process called Man Entry Surveying. To undertake such a survey, all staff must be fully trained in the use of relevant equipment and must have undertaken a course to work in Confined Spaces. Use of PPE clothing, intrinsically safe communications and lighting, deployment of escape packs or fully-working BA equipment and devices to monitor the environment are also perquisites for working in such spaces. Our teams are highly trained and possess considerable expertise and experience working within Confined Spaces gained on numerous projects across Ireland and the UK. The safety of our personnel and others is paramount on all McAllister Group sites!

During the taking of the image, no Mutant Ninja Turtles, overgrown rats, Crocodiles or Halloween monsters were discovered. If they had been, they would almost certainly have had to undertake a Health and Safety induction.

Ready for Business!

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News Release

One of the leading environmental solutions providers in the UK and Ireland, Newry-headquartered the McAllister Group officially opened its new office in Eglinton this week. The office will service customers across the North West and North Coast offering a comprehensive range of leading-edge services including the repair and rehabilitation of old or broken pipes, CCTV investigations, septic tank emptying, blockage removal, interceptor cleaning, grease trap cleaning, robotic cutting and jetting services.

The McAllister Group has invested in premises, plant, vehicles and personnel in the last number of months to establish an effective operating base in Eglinton to serve the local region. The office will be fully staffed with an Office Manager and number of highly experienced field teams who all reside in the surrounding area. The Office will have responsibility for attending to the requirements of Commercial and Residential Customers across the region – from Derry/Londonderry to Limavady to Coleraine stretching as far as Ballymoney and Ballycastle. The Eglinton Office will be supported by the McAllister Group’s Divisions, Teams and vehicle fleet which operate across Northern Ireland from the company’s headquarters in Newry.

Eglinton Office Manager, Áine McGuirk commented “We have the right people with the right experience and knowledge. Our Jet-Vac, Tanker and Camera teams are highly trained and highly motivated. In particular, I am looking forward to further developing the McAllister brand in the North West and along the North Coast. We will do this through exemplary service delivery and in fostering long-term relationships with commercial and residential customers”.

Peter McAllister, Managing Director Ireland for the McAllister Group explained the Group’s expansion plans: “Our commitment to the region is demonstrated in our investment in new modern vehicles to supplement our existing fleet, investment in new equipment, new technologies and in the continuing development of the expertise and skills of our people. For nearly five decades, the McAllister Group has been at the forefront of the industry in Ireland. We are Number One for a reason – the experience and expertise in-house, our highly-skilled professional teams, the innovativeness of our solutions and an expansive modern fleet of vehicles. Supporting our offer is the speed of our response times, a designated 24/7 emergency call centre, competitive pricing and a customer-centric approach”.