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Science And Nature

Europe drought: German industry at an increased risk as Rhine level falls

FRANK JORDANS,Associated Press

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A cargo ship passes a danger buoy lying on dry land in Dusseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. After weeks of drought, the water levels of the Rhine have reached historic lows. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)
1of5A cargo ship passes a danger buoy lying on dry land in Dusseldorf, North Rhine-Westphalia, Germany. After weeks of drought, the water degrees of the Rhine reach historic lows. (Federico Gambarini/dpa via AP)

BERLIN (AP) Germany’s main industry lobby group warned Tuesday that factories may need to throttle production or halt it completely because plunging water levels on the Rhine River are rendering it harder to move cargo.

The Rhine’s level at Emmerich, close to the Dutch border, dropped by way of a further four centimeters (1.6 inches) in 24 hours, hitting zero on the depth gauge.

Authorities say the shipping lane itself still includes a depth of almost 200 centimeters (six feet, six inches), however the record low measurement Tuesday morning highlights the extreme insufficient water due to months of drought affecting a lot of Europe.

The ongoing drought and the reduced water levels threaten the supply security of industry, said Holger Loesch, deputy head of the BDI business lobby group.

Loesch said shifting cargo from river to teach or transport was difficult due to limited rail capacity and too little drivers.

It’s just a question of time before facilities in the chemical and steel industry need to be powered down, petroleum and construction materials won’t reach their destination, and high-capacity and heavy-goods transports can not be completed anymore, he said, adding that may lead to supply bottlenecks and short-time work might result.

Loesch warned that energy supplies may be further strained as ships carrying coal and gasoline across the Rhine are affected.

Drivers in southern Germany curently have to pay somewhat more for fuel than those further north, in accordance with Germany’s biggest motor club. The ADAC said diesel had been sold at under 1.82 euros ($1.84) per liter in Hamburg, within the southwestern state of Baden-Wuerttemberg it cost normally 1.97 euros.

The BDI said droughts such as for example that seen this season could are more frequent later on, and urged the federal government to greatly help closely monitor water levels and react early to potential transportation problems on Germany’s waterways.

Experts say climate change is making extreme weather, including heatwaves and droughts, much more likely.

Germany’s weather service has forecast heavy rain toward the finish of the week which could provide some relief to river shipping companies.


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