Giving an industrial site a new lease of life

The Hénâ waste tip project is an ambitious mission that demonstrates ENGIE Electrabel’s desire to epitomise industrial responsibility. The site is home to 1.7 million m³ of ash that has covered two valleys in the Flémalle area since 1952. However, a new green space conducive to the development of biodiversity will soon be created at this former ash deposit.


 A new green space conducive to the development of biodiversity
A new green space conducive to the development of biodiversity

Short history of the waste tip

The Hénâ waste tip is located in Awirs in the municipality of Flémalle. The site originally consisted of two valleys which were mainly taken up by the Hénâ and Fagnes streams.

The waste tip comprises 1.7 million m³ of fly ash produced by the combustion of coal at the Awirs power plant. Ash was deposited there from 1952 until 1972, when stability issues resulted in the closure of the site.

Over the years, all necessary measures have been taken to guarantee the stability of the waste tip and a continuous monitoring by academics, secured the safety of the site.

In 2002, ENGIE Electrabel began developing a project aiming to completely remove the waste tip. An independent external study showed that this was the only permanent solution for the longer term.

Latest news

Hena newsletter 13 cover jbcWork on the evacuation of the Hénâ waste tip has been ongoing since the end of 2016.

So far, more than 200,000 tonnes of fly ash have been removed.

In addition, the asbestos removal operation, which was interrupted at the end of April 2017, resumed in mid-November after the permit was extended.

Specific air measurement campaigns are regularly organised (5 times a month), with the results analysed by an independent accredited laboratory.

Due to the dry weather conditions in July and the first half of August, the monthly five-day campaign for the measurement of asbestos fibre levels in the air on and around the Hénâ site, initially scheduled for the week of 20 August 2018, was brought forward to 7 August. The results of the measurements from 7 to 10 August and on 13 August comply with the conditions set by the permit. Let us recall that these conditions are 10 times more restrictive than stipulated in the Belgian law. The next measurement campaign is scheduled to take place by the end of September.

In June 2018, we sent our thirteenth newsletter to the residents of the Hénâ waste tip.

Read the latest newsletters (in French): June 2018January 2018November 2017, October 2017May 2017.

An ambitious and responsible project

Key figures of the project:

15: The work will take 15 years

60: The number of recommendations implemented, in addition to those strict measures initially proposed to mitigate the impacts on residents

50: 50 million euros investment

1.7: 1.7 million m³ of fly ash 

An ambitious project comprising 3 phases

An ambitious project comprising 3 phases

The aim is clear: gradually restore the site to its original state by developing a new, pleasant green space while guaranteeing complete safety in the long term.

Work began in May 2015 and will comprise 3 phases:

  1. Preparatory phase to assemble the equipment needed to remove the waste tip
  2. Removal of the ash to the Awirs site using a covered conveyor belt and transportation via boat to the Belgian cement manufacturing sector
  3. Gradual restoration of the site and dismantling of equipment
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Prioritising safety

Prioritising safety

Extensive modelling of the project phases has been carried out together with multiple design consultancies to guarantee the stability of the site.

The fly ash will be removed starting with the edges upstream of the waste tip before moving downstream. The removal will adhere to a strict schedule validated by several independent university professors with a view to guaranteeing that the work is safe at all times, especially when reducing the slopes on site.

Internal and external checks of the site’s stability will be tightened up as the work progresses (in cooperation with UCL, ULg and ULB).

Finally, an internal ENGIE Electrabel specific emergency plan and a municipal emergency and intervention plan have been put in place.

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Local living conditions

Local living conditions

From the moment we began organising this project, we have taken as many steps as possible to mitigate any disruption.

As such, the least disruptive solution was picked over the other, less optimal solutions (e.g. transport via lorry, different route).

The 60 recommendations listed in the environmental impact study or requested by local authorities will be applied with a view to limiting the impact of the project.

In particular, we are taking  measures to reduce the noise generated and to ensure that there is no dust found outside the site.

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Information for local residents

We strive to provide residents with information in a transparent and proactive manner throughout the project. A dedicated team is standby to listen to them and to provide information.


Freephone: +32 (0)800 20 210

Learn all about the project 

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