The Eiffel Tower is rusty and in need of full repairs, according to information leaked to French magazine Marianne. We take a look at how the 1889 monument is maintained and what still needs to be done
The Eiffel Tower is rusting but its management is only repainting it, reports the French magazine Marianne. AFP
As France prepares for the 2024 Olympics, the Eiffel Tower is getting a makeover – a paint job that costs 60 million euros. However, this may not be what one of the most visited tourist sites in the world needs. The 1,063-foot-tall tower is believed to be rusting and in need of extensive repairs, according to confidential reports cited by a French magazine Marianne.
What’s wrong with the Eiffel Tower?
According to information leaked to the magazine, the tall wrought-iron tower built by French engineer Gustave Eiffel in the late 19th century is in poor condition, riddled with rust.
“If Gustave Eiffel visited the place, he would have a heart attack,” an anonymous tower official said. Marianne.
The Parisian monument is repainted for the 20th time before the Olympic Games. About 30% of the tower was to be stripped and then given two new coats, but work delays caused by the pandemic and the presence of lead in the old paint mean only 5% will be treated, according to the magazine reported.
What does painting work include?
Maintenance of the tower includes the application of 50 metric tons of three-degree paint every seven years. The darkest paint is used at the bottom and the lightest shade at the top. The repainting lasts 15 months and around 25 painters are involved. About 1,500 brushes, 5,000 sanding discs and 1,500 sets of work clothes are needed, according to the Corrosion Doctors website.
The tower changed color several times, going from red-brown to yellow-ocher, then to brown and finally to today’s bronze. The painting is mostly done by hand.
However, this is not enough to prevent the monument from rusting.
What needs to be done?
According to experts who spoke to Marianne, the work in progress is nothing but a cosmetic facelift. They predict that the result will be dismal. The tower needs to be completely stripped of metal, repaired, and repainted, and that painting over old paint makes the corrosion worse.
Have there been any previous warnings?
Yes, this is not the first time that maintenance of the Eiffel Tower has been reported.
A 2010 report indicated that the Société d’Exploitation de la Tour Eiffel (SETE), which is responsible for the preservation of the monument, should come up with a whole new maintenance policy based on testing the aging metal structure.
Another 2014 report by Expiris, a paint company, found that the tower had cracks and rust and that only 10% of the newer paint on the tower was adhering to the structure, reports Guardian.
Bernard Giovannoni, the director of Expiris who authored the 2014 report, said Marianne, “I have been working on the tower for several years now. In 2014, I considered that there was an extreme urgency to deal with corrosion. He said he advised that the tower be “stripped and repainted”.
A 2016 report found 884 flaws in the monument, 68 of which would be a risk to its “durability”.
Why are these recommendations ignored?
For a complete overhaul, the tower will have to be closed to the public. SETE is reluctant to close it for a long time because tourism revenue would be lost. The closure in 2020 due to the pandemic resulted in revenue of 52 million euros.
About six million visitors visit the Eiffel Tower each year. It is the fourth most visited cultural site in France after Disneyland, the Louvre and the Palace of Versailles.
What did Gustave Eiffel say about the interview?
The Eiffel Tower, completed in 1889, was to be dismantled 20 years later. However, it still stands and that’s only because of maintenance. With around 2.5 million rivets, the monument was constructed using iron and given four coats of red lead paint, now banned but considered the best anti-corrosive agent at the time, reports Guardian.
The 7,300-ton iron tower was built for the Universal Exhibition, which saw visitors from all over the world flock to Paris.
In his book The 300-meter Tower, Gustave Eiffel wrote: “We will probably never realize the importance of painting the Tower, that it is the essential element in the conservation of metal structures and more the work of painting is meticulous, the longer the time will be. the Tower will last.
On the tower’s website, Bertrand Lemoine, architect, engineer and historian, writes: “The layer of paint that protects the metal of the Tower is very effective, but it must be replaced periodically… So if it is repainted, the Eiffel Tower can last forever.”
With contributions from agencies
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