01 Feb 2011

Test Passages Downstream from Wednesday onwards

No More Danger of Explosion 

From today, the danger of explosion in all the tanks of the “Waldhof” has been averted. Nitrogen is being continuously introduced into the tanks, forcing out any hydrogen that forms. 

Under these new circumstances, the WSA (Wasser- und Schifffahrtsamt) Bingen has re-evaluated the risk situation, and has decided to carry out the first test passages tomorrow. The vessels being considered for this will be approached directly by the WSA Bingen. Based on the results of these test passages, a decision will be made about whether, and if so under what conditions, controlled downstream passages can be considered.

In order to make sure that waiting vessels do not start an uncontrolled mass movement downstream before the results of the test passages are known, a closure of the downstream passage will be enforced between Ludwigshafen and Bad Salzig. At the same time, for safety reasons the upstream passage past the accident site will be closed again to start with. The closure to shipping will be supervised by the river police (WSP).

On Monday, the experts achieved a great success. They mastered the technical challenge of drilling Tank 1, which is mainly underwater, and inertising it by flooding it with nitrogen. Now the capsized vessel can be said to be virtually hydrogen-free. There is no more danger to local inhabitants, and no need to close roads or railways for the time being.

When taking samples from the tanks, the experts found that within the individual tanks, mixtures with different concentrations had formed at different depths. In consultation with the salvaging firm, the next step planned is to “homogenise” this acid/water mixture, while taking continuous samples. For this purpose, submersible pumps will be introduced into the tanks through the already-existing apertures, in order to “whisk” the mixture and thus obtain a uniform degree of concentration. This should make it easier to pump off the contents of the tanks – which, however, according to present forecasts will only happen from Wednesday onwards.


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