Limited passage of single ships begins on river Rhine

20 January 2011 15:28  [Source: ICIS news]

LONDON (ICIS)--The successful completion of safety tests on a closed section of the river Rhine in Germany, where a ship capsized last week, has led to the limited passage of single vessels on the waterway, an official said on Thursday.

Florian Krekel, a spokesman for shipping authority Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Bingen, said that single ships were now permitted to pass the capsized Waldhof ship after test passages were carried out on.

"Based on the tests carried out we decided that limited passage from now on was possible," Krekel said.

"The closure of the Rhine continues, but single ships will be permitted to pass the site at the location of the Waldhof," he added.

Salvage work on the capsized ship cannot begin until four cranes are in place, Krekel said. Two have already arrived on site and will begin some preparations for the salvage operation later this week. A third crane was expected to arrive this weekend, with the fourth expected next week.

Once the salvage operation begins, the 70km stretch of the river would once again have to be completely closed. There was no exact schedule for when this would happen, Krekel said.

The river would then remain closed until the salvage operation – expected to last between two and three weeks – is completed, Krekel added.

The 70km stretch of the river had been closed between Bingen, near Mainz, and Engers, just north of Koblenz, after the Waldhof, which was carrying 2,378 tonnes of sulphuric acid, capsized while en route from BASF’s Ludwigshafen site to Antwerp, Belgium.

Two of the ship's crew members were still missing.

Krekel said that regular water samples from the river have not detected the presence of sulphuric acid.

The Rhine is an important European shipping route for chemicals and other commodities, including minerals, coal and oil products.

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By: Franco Capaldo
+44 (0)20 8652 3214



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