09 Feb 2011

From Sunday 7:00 am: Rhine fully closed for 48 hours

Salvaging of the vessel “Waldhof” to start on Sunday

Up to and including Saturday, 12.02.2011 the WSA Bingen will be regulating shipping between Budenheim (Rhine-km 509) and Bad Salzig (Rhine-km 564). The plan to deal with vessels that have gathered above Budenheim, and below the closure below Bad Salzig is as follows:

First the downstream passage will be open for a certain period, the length of time depending on the number of ships that have gathered. Then the closure of the upstream passage will be lifted, until early on Sunday. For the last stage of the salvaging of the “Waldhof”, a full closure of the Rhine cannot be avoided.

At the terminals, Contargo will speed up the processing of the barges on the Middle and Upper Rhine that are travelling downstream, so that they will in all probability have already passed the accident site before the full closure comes into force. Of course delays cannot be ruled out nevertheless.

The closure of the Rhine begins on Sunday 13.02.2011 at 7:00 am and is expected to last for 48 hours. During this stage of the salvaging operation, buoyancy will be generated in the “Waldhof” by pumping water out of the cargo tanks and wing voids. After this, the vessel will be turned with the help of floating cranes and hydraulic winches, and shifted to the right bank.

Since this morning (Wednesday) controlled pumping of the contents of Tank 4 of the capsized “Waldhof” into the Rhine has been taking place. This process will be completed by this evening. Then the salvage team will begin the controlled emptying of Tank 3. This work will be broken off later this evening and completed tomorrow morning. For safety reasons, the “Waldhof”’s cargo is no longer being pumped into tanks on other vessels. The next three days will be needed for detailed technical preparations for the process of raising and turning the “Waldhof”.

Before the accident occurred, the tank vessel “Waldhof” was carrying a cargo of approximately 2400 t of sulphuric acid. During the accident itself, it is estimated that 900 t already entered the Rhine. Approximately 550 t were pumped off into the motor tank vessel “Erlenhof” and transported to BASF in Ludwigshafen. When controlled pumping into the Rhine is completed early tomorrow, a total of c. 850 t will have been “leaked” into the Rhine at a rate of not more than 12 litres per second. About 100 t will remain in the “Waldhof”’s tanks. It is not possible for these to be pumped out, due to the position of the vessel. All measured pH values continue to be within the forecast range.


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