The deepening of the Elbe threatens to fail because of the silt
During work on the Elbe deepening, an excavator brings silt out of a harbor basin in Hamburg.
Photo: Axel Hemken / dpa
The last deepening of the Elbe was only declared finished ten months ago. But now fresh silt is causing problems for the experts. a long story.
Hamburg. The deepening of the Elbe, which was only declared complete by the federal government at the end of January, threatens to become a nuisance after only ten months due to the large amount of silt. The Federal Waterways and Shipping Directorate had already decided at the beginning of the month to limit the navigable water depth of the tidal Elbe to one meter from December 1st to November 30th, 2023.
Its chairman Hans-Heinrich Witte told the weekly newspaper “Die Zeit” (Thursday) that it could take “three to five years” for the river bed to reach the planned depth again through dredging work.
Low discount for large container ships
The Elbe deepening, which cost more than 800 million euros, was originally intended to increase the permissible draft for cargo ships to 14.50 m at high tide and 13.50 m regardless of the tide. According to the General Directorate for Waterways and Shipping, the deepening of the Elbe has only improved the draft by 20 to 90 centimeters compared to the time before. As a result, large container ships have little space to move their cargo across the Elbe. The approximately 130-kilometer stretch between Hamburg and the North Sea is one of the most important waterways in Europe.
Hamburg’s Economics Senator Michael Westhagemann said in an interview with the weekly newspaper: “I was surprised by the actions of the federal government. It wasn’t even coordinated with us. He suggested Transport Minister Volker Wissing (FDP) that the Hamburg port authority would help the federal government and, for example, buy suction dredgers.
Shipowner: A quick ban is not a problem
A spokesman for the Hamburg shipping company Hapag-Lloyd told the German Press Agency that the sanctions were not a serious problem. The routes of large container ships have always been designed in such a way that parts of the cargo are already loaded onto the ships. Rotterdam or Antwerp would have gotten off before entering Hamburg. This can be difficult when the water level is low due to severe drought or strong easterly winds are constantly blowing. Then the ships would have to do without containers in the three to four-digit range, said the spokesman.
When asked by the DPA, the Directorate-General for Waterways and Shipping explained the reason for the depth limit being strong storms in rapid succession and the lack of headwaters and the adjustment of the system to the fairway. Attitude. This temporarily leads to increased sedimentation. “In the event of extreme, extraordinary events, there is a shortage of staff. The third excavator is planned for this year.
( © dpa-infocom, dpa:221123-99-637057/2 (dpa) )