Tuesday, August 14, 2007

Floods hamper barge traffic in Germany

More side effects from a probable impact of climate change.

Shipping was halted on part of the Rhine river after heavy rains pushed water levels 1 meter (3.3 feet) past their maximum limit for the first summer in 29 years.

Barge captains have been told not to sail between Basel, Switzerland, where the river starts, and the German city of Mannheim in the state of Baden Wurttemberg, Kai Kempmann, the head of Freiburg's waterways department, said today by phone.

The river connects Rotterdam, Europe's largest oil port, with industrial facilities in France, Germany, Switzerland and Austria. Germany is Europe's most important barge market, accounting for 25 percent of inland waterborne transportation.

"The floods are hampering trade and transport,'' said Peter Kulsen, a consultant at PJK International BV in the Netherlands, which tracks freight rates. ``Discussions for loading and lifting early next week have had to be delayed.''

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