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Not everyone will contract the Coronavirus, but it’s clear every one of us will be affected by it.

Accordingly, we spent some time chatting with Mark Campbell, our Senior Project Manager, who leads our team working for the South Tees Site Company (STSC) at their development site at the former SSI steelworks in South Tees, to understand how the virus is impacting our site operations.

Mark, thank you for sparing the time to join us today. Firstly, could you share with us a little information about STSC’s objectives, the development site, and how Altrad are supporting the project.

Sure. The South Tees Site Company Ltd (STSC) is an interim government body that is responsible for the safe, secure and cost-effective management of the former SSI steelworks site in Redcar. It plays a pivotal role in the redevelopment of the South Tees area by working to a ‘make it safe/keep it safe’ strategy.

Altrad are supporting this land-mark project in the role of Principal Designer and Principal Contractor by providing a range of environmental cleaning solutions, together with other support services, to allow the removal of the site’s COMAH status, thereby enabling the safe redevelopment of the site.

Our project activities encompass the safe removal of around 130,000mof hazardous materials. To achieve the same, in a safe and responsible manner, Altrad are installing a temporary waste processing facility, allowing us to reduce the physical quantities of waste leaving the site.

This is a very exciting project for Altrad – it highlights our impressive ability to mobilise innovative solutions that create value for our clients, whilst providing long-term environmental benefits to the communities we serve.

We appreciate that it is a very challenging time for everyone, especially so from a site delivery perspective, could you explain how we are responding?

The team at the STSC site have continued to work effectively; the operational teams remain on site, whilst administration, commercial and certain venerable staff members are working from home. Morale remains high, and in a manner which typifies the British bull-dog spirit, people are rising to each and every challenge. Everyone on site has adapted their working regimes to facilitate social distancing and all meetings involving others are conducted by Skype or Teams. The whole team joins the 9am meeting and we ensure that we regularly check up on anyone in self-isolation.

Are there any positive aspects you can share?

I have found that the simple things become more important. Everyone in the team sends out a “good morning” email so the whole team feel included. It is such a small thing, but it makes a huge difference, especially so for people who are working remotely. It’s also fantastic to see Altrad and our people helping the NHS with donations and PPE; it makes you proud to wear the Altrad logo. I’m also really pleased with how our various sites are co-operating and working more closely to overcome challenges… I do hope that continues well after the pandemic has subsided!

Given this period of change and uncertainty, it must be a tough time for the whole team, how are they coping?

The STSC team have been really practical in their approach; they are a great group of people and have been very supportive. Each of them understand the challenges and the circumstances, and that these can vary by each role and each person. We have a split team, some working at site, some working from home, and others that have been furloughed, but no-one has questioned the approach and there is a recognition that the situation is difficult and that we have had to adapt in order to continue to support the project.

What do you think the next few weeks will bring?

We must first hope that the next few weeks provide a reduction in the numbers of people contracting the virus and that the death rate lowers. We should be mindful that these figures are individual people and they have family left behind that are devastated; it’s a tragic, heart-breaking situation.

After that, and as the social distancing measures are relaxed, I would hope for an improvement in business activity. It would be great to think about getting back to normal, but the reality is, we have communities that have been devastated by the virus, so the human spirit is being tested to the maximum – I’m hoping we all remember the best in everyone, and that we come out of this stronger and more compassionate.

Mark, do you have any closing thoughts?

It has been wonderful to see everyone’s supportive nature shine through. The team spirit seems to have become much stronger during these hard times and is helping us all to get through the situation. Like most people, I never thought I would witness a global pandemic and can only hope I never do again.

I want to take this opportunity to thank our STSC team for their patience and understanding, and for doing everything possible to support one another. I couldn’t have wished for a better team to work alongside in these circumstances; they have been amazing.

Thanks to all and stay safe.

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