Blocked Rhine is costing millions

The capsized chemical tanker that has trapped around 300 barges on the River Rhine near St Goarshausen in the Middle Rhine Valley is reportedly costing barge operators more than $5,000 per vessel per day. The river has been blocked since 13 January and estimated costs caused by delays have already reached “several million” according to the German barge operators association BDB.

Netherlands salvage expert, Mammoet, is handling the recovery but operations are being hindered the possibility of potentially explosive hydrogen which is thought to have built-up between the skins of the double-hull tanker. Mammoet will begin to unload the cargo of sulphuric acid once the vessel has been stabilised and the cargo heated to increase its liquidity. The entire operation is expected to take at least another ten days.

A number of smaller barges have been able to pass the blockage on their passage upstream but for larger vessels, the downstream waterway remains un-navigable. The unfortunate consequence is that many cargoes are transferring to road.