The controversial Hallands rail tunnel project in southern Sweden should not now be completed, the national rail authority recommended this week. The tunnel hit the headlines in 1997 when an acrylamide-based chemical sealant being applied to walls failed to polymerise and leaked into groundwater and local rivers (ENDS Daily 21 October 1997). Given the area's difficult geology - water pressure is greater than around the undersea tunnel between England and France - the rail authority says concrete would now have to be used in place of chemical sealants if the project were continued. This would push the costs of building the 8km tunnel to SKr4.8bn (Ecu0.5bn), almost twice the original budget. The government is expected to reach a final decision on the project in the next few months. According to the Swedish rail authority, the Hallands chemical leak has rung "alarm bells" in the Swedish rail and construction industries, and is prompting s erious study of how chemical sealants are to be used in future. The tunnel was conceived as part of a project to build a faster rail link between Norwegian capital Oslo and points along Sweden's west coast towards Denmark.
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