A country vulnerable to flooding

Water control in the Netherlands has always been important for the country's survival: about two-thirds of the Netherlands is vulnerable to flooding and sea surges, while one-third of the country's surface is below sea level. A network of more than 17 500 kms of dykes protects the 6000 kms of canals that run through the country.

Following the dramatic floods of 1953 in the Netherlands, the 'Delta' plan was launched to improve safety. It is estimated that the risk of flooding has been reduced to less than once every 4000 years in Zeeland and even once every 10 000 years in the Rotterdam area. Dyke reinforcement continues across the country, especially on the 1850 kms of dykes that do not yet meet the safety standards required by 2050.

Reusing recycled sheet piles for dyke reinforcement in the Netherlands

For the reinforcement of the Gorinchem-Waardenburg (GoWa) dyke in the Netherlands, ArcelorMittal Projects and ArcelorMittal Sheet Piling provided 6 kms of steel sheet piles. These sheet piles not only protect the dyke against the risk of failure, but also help reduce the environmental impact of the project thanks to the reuse of used sheet piles, themselves made from recycled steel.


Published: 2 March 2023

Reinforcing the Gorinchem-Waardenburg dyke with ArcelorMittal's sheet piles

For the reinforcement of the Gorinchem-Waardenburg (GoWa) dyke, ArcelorMittal Projects and ArcelorMittal Sheet Piling provided steel sheet piles to customer Graaf Reinald Alliantie for more than 6 kms of the 23-km-long dyke. Sheet piles were the ideal solution to support and reinforce the structure against failure, especially where the surrounding space is limited and does not allow for the extension of its footprint on the ground.

Moreover, due to the scope of the project and the recent inclusion of environmental criteria in Dutch tendering procedures, the environmental impact of the selected solutions needed to be reduced as much as possible.

The project owner and ArcelorMittal worked together to reduce the carbon footprint of the project by applying the three important principles of the circular economy: Reduce, Reuse, Recycle.

Reduce, Reuse, Recycle

Reduce: Innovation in steel and rolling technology, as well as in installation equipment, has made it possible to reduce the quantity of steel needed to make the same retaining wall by more than 50% over the last few decades.

On the GoWa project, the sheet piles were supplied in high quality S430 GP steel to achieve the required strength with a lighter sheet pile profile and reduce the environmental impact.

ArcelorMittal's sheet piles, produced in the Belval mill in Luxembourg, use low-emission modes of transport such as railways and waterways. The steel is produced by the electric arc furnace (EAF) process, which produces less residue than primary blast furnace production - with up to five times less CO2 emissions.

The company’s new EcoSheetPile™ Plus brand of steel sheet piling, part of its XCarb® recycled and renewably produced initiative, takes a further step by using only electricity from renewable solar or wind sources. This achieves a 30% lower carbon footprint than with the usual energy mix.

Reuse: Although the reuse of used steel sheet piles is an excellent solution for temporary applications, they are more rarely used in permanent structures such as dyke reinforcement.

For the GoWa dyke project, the client deliberately selected used sheet piles. In locations where there was a risk of hydraulic failure, a used sheet pile wall can fulfil this function as well as a new sheet pile wall. The main difference is that the total greenhouse gas emissions from the production phase of the steel sheet piles do not have to be included in the environmental balance of the project as they have already been partially included in the previous temporary applications.

Recycle: Unlike other materials used in retaining walls and deep foundations, steel sheet piles can be extracted from the ground at the end of the structure's life and be 100% recycled to produce new steel products of the same or even higher quality.

The reinforcement of the GoWa dyke has a theoretical life span of 100 years. Since the corrosion of sheet piles embedded in the dyke body is minimal, the sheet piles can be extracted and 100% recycled at the end of life of the dyke.

The Gorinchem-Waardenburg dyke reinforcement project is another great example of how ArcelorMittal sheet piles efficiently protect vulnerable locations from the risks of flooding. Our teams continue to develop innovative solutions, responding to the needs of all civil engineering actors (project owners, engineering firms, construction contractors), optimising costs, total steel weight, resource consumption, and environmental impact.

ArcelorMittal Europe Communications