BASF to conduct safety tests of capsized boat on river Rhine

24 January 2011 11:51  [Source: ICIS news]

BASF to conduct safety tests on capsized boatLONDON (ICIS)--Specialists from BASF will examine the cargo of sulphuric acid that was being transported by the boat that capsized on the river Rhine in Germany on 13 January, sources said on Monday.

The specialists need to test if water has been in contact with the ship's cargo of sulphuric acid and if there is a risk that highly explosive hydrogen has developed in the vessel, said Uwe Rindsfuesser, a spokesman for the Landkreis Rhein-Lahn, a local administrative authority.

Work to stabilise the ship, the Waldhof, was currently taking place before specialists can begin conducting tests on 26 January or 27 January.

The ship was carrying some 2,400 tonnes of sulphuric acid from BASF’s petrochemicals hub in Ludwigshafen, Germany, to Antwerp, Belgium, when it capsized on 13 January.

The capsizing led authorities to close a 70km stretch of the Rhine, an important European shipping route for chemicals and other commodities, between Bingen, near Mainz, and Engers, just north of Koblenz.

Florian Krekel, a spokesman for shipping authority Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt Bingen, said two cranes began salvage work on 22 January on the capsized tanker.

A third crane was currently in the harbour and being prepared to help secure the Waldhof with cables, he said.

Once the sulphuric acid was checked and deemed safe, the ship's contents would be transferred to a tanker currently on site.

Officials will have a better idea later this week about how long the removal of the vessel would take, Krekel said.

Ships travelling upstream have been allowed to pass the salvage site since 21 January.

“On Friday, 20 ships passed the bend of the capsized ship. On Saturday, 93 passed. And yesterday (Sunday), 111 went through. The congestion of boats travelling upstream has now disappeared,” Krekel said.

However, downstream shipping remained closed and vessels were facing congestion on the waterway near the city of Mainz as they waited for permission to pass. Krekel said it could not be determined when downstream shipping would be resumed.

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

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