April 26, 2020

Smelly rainbow in the Rhine

From time to time we get reports from colleagues, friends and residents about plastic hotspots and other kinds of pollution. But Saturday 18 April we received a very remarkable report: an oil spill had been spotted in the Nieuwe Rijn canal!

Although the canoe fleet focuses mainly on plastic pollution, we're also available when we can help improving the canals in other ways, like an oil spill. So we called the police, jumped into our canoes and paddled to the site. We assisted the enforcers in mapping the scale of the oil spill and it turned out to be a big leak. Hundreds of meters of canal were contaminated.

The Nieuwe Rijn between the Kraaierbrug and the Singelbrug showed all the colours of the rainbow and there was an intense smell of diesel. An expert from Ecoloss soon attacked the oil with a bacterial spray that would break down the oil. 48 hours later when we inspected the water of the Nieuwe Rijn, it indeed had the familiar clean appearance again, without the smell of diesel. Unfortunately, the source of the leakage was not found. We inspected all the boats along the canal by canoe, but could not detect the origin. It's possible that the pollution came from a passing ship.