Eiffel Tower to Undergo Major Makeover

Eiffel Tower to Undergo Major Makeover

Tuesday, 13 March, 2018 - 07:00
The illuminated Eiffel Tower and La Defense business district (background) are seen during the traditional Bastille Day in Paris, July 14, 2014. REUTERS/Gonzalo Fuentes
Paris - Asharq Al-Awsat
With a forty-million-euro budget, a major workshop to repaint the Eiffel Tower in compliance with the health and safety standards has kicked off.

The works will also include the completion of the glass wall surrounding the site to protect it from expected terrorist attacks.

The workshop, which is expected to end by 2021, is the largest maintenance process the tower has ever seen since its establishment in 1889.

During this operation, workers will be forced to reduce the tower’s weight, and to shrink the quantity of iron used in its structure, because of the new paint’s extra weight, which will reach 60 tons, while the total weight of the tower is currently 10,000 tons, and must not be exceeded for safety requirements.

In his book "The 300-meter Tower", Gustave Eiffel, the tower's engineer, said that the “only guarantee for the tower’s survival is to take care of its iron”.

The tower celebrates its 130th anniversary next year.

A monument that has become a milestone in the French capital, but weather conditions such as rain and wind had caused the erosion of some of its parts. Thus, the painting process is repeated every seven years, and it takes three years at a time. To maintain the structure, 19 layers of gradient paint must be placed.

But, “La SETE”, the company that manages and invests in the tower's works, faces a complicated problem this time, caused by the presence of lead in its former paint. According to a report by the Department of Health Insurance in Paris, the inhalation of lead dust can cause serious diseases, and therefore the company that invests the tower should take this information into account, in order to protect the workshop’s workers.

The site will remain open during the maintenance period. And to protect the workers assigned to remove the old paint layers, nylon barriers attached to each other will be placed between the tower’s ground and first floors, the two areas most in need of maintenance. These barriers will keep the lead dust away from the workshop's workers, as well as tourists who visit the tower known as the "Iron Lady", one of the most visited tourist features in the world, hosting seven million visitors last year.

In 2016, the Paris Court of Cassation convicted the “La SETE” company for obstructing the work of the Health and Safety Commission in checking the working conditions, and fined it €18750.

The company’s lawyer stated that they were not aware that the lead ratio in the paint was 21 times higher than the allowed limit, adding that the health committee will be very vigilant to protect the safety of workers and visitors from any risks.

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