Friday, 28 January 2011

Salvage underway

The Mammoet Salvage team have got themselves started and judging by the photos appearing in the local press, this is going to be one fascinating job. The first stage is to alleviate the risk of a spill of the 2,400 tons of concentrated Sulphuric Acid by getting it out of the tanks. This has to be done one tank at a time and each tank must then have the remnant neutralised and then ballasted before the next one can be drained.

For those who don't know, shoving water into a tank full of concentrated Sulphuric Acid is one of the messiest ways to create an explosion. The water and the acid react, generating steam and the result is a steam burst, the water gets so hot, so fast, it converts to steam - and the steam bursts the tank. The passenger rail services along the edge of the river to St Goarhausen and the neighbouring towns has been suspended while this operation is in progress and so has road traffic - the road runs between the river and the rail line.

Once the barge can safely be lifted, it will be brought into the small harbour right next to it and then righted and refloated properly. After that it will be towed away to be either scrapped or repaired. Apparently no decision has yet been made on it and it seems very likely that at some point the body of one or both the missing crewmen will be found inside it.

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