Lights, camera, clean up! CleanSafe clears site used in Guy Richie movie
The British director used one of the nine shop-front properties in the terrace in south London as a key location in his hit movie The Snatch, starring Brad Pitt, Jason Statham and Benicio del Toro.
That moment of fame was a high point in the recent troubled history of the four-storey properties in the Walbrook area of Southwark, close to Paisley Park.
More recently, CleanSafe was commissioned to use its extreme cleaning expertise to clear large quantities of waste from the site – much of it hazardous waste.
CleanSafe Accounts Manager Jane Robertson said: “The properties have not been put to good use for some years, as discussions have continued about whether the site would be redeveloped or the properties refurbished.
“The properties have been used as a location by a number of film companies, as well as Guy Richie, and it appears this helped build interest in the local community in preserving the buildings.
“In recent years, they had been taken over by squatters. This resulted in a huge amount of waste building up. This had to be cleared before a proper assessment could be made about how to bring the site back into use.”
Because of the scale and nature of the waste on the site – and the fact that it was known many of the squatters were users of illegal drugs – CleanSafe was commissioned to carry out the site clean-up work.
Jane Robertson said: “Even when carrying out an initial inspection, to establish the scope of works, we had to wear full protective clothing, goggles, masks and needle stick proof boots and gloves.
“The area had been heavily contaminated with human waste, and was infested with vermin and wild animals, including rats and foxes, as well as fleas. It presented a significant risk to human health.”
The properties had been used by fly tippers, with piles of building waste left in back gardens. Large quantities of household waste had also built up – much of it contaminated by human faeces, urine and vomit.
Jane Robertson said: “The first task our cleaning teams had to complete was a thorough needle sweep, looking for used hypodermic needles, which took three days.
“They could then get on which clearing other waste from the site. The initial plan was to separate the waste. But it became clear that much of it had become contaminated, so had to be treated as hazardous waste.”
A quantity of waste electrical and electronic equipment (WEEE) and building rubble could be recycled. Needles collected were treated as clinical waste. Hazardous waste was taken to an authorised hazardous waste disposal site, where most of it was incinerated.
In total more than 44 tonnes of waste was removed from the ground floor areas of the nine properties. The cleared areas were then sanitised with disinfectant spray.
Jane Robertson said: “We had 10 CleanSafe operatives working on the site in full protective clothing for two weeks, which gives an idea of the scale of the task we faced, just to clear contaminated waste from the ground floor areas.”
Not quite the right ingredients for an all-action movie, but a great performance by CleanSafe teams, all the same!