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TIN news:   After the successful trial closure of the Maeslant barrier and the Hartel barrier on 17 September 2016, the Dutch Ministry of Infrastructure and the Environment (Rijkswaterstaat) may be closing both barriers once again during the coming storm season.
The purpose of this ‘verification closure’ is for Rijkswaterstaat to test the closing of the barriers in storm conditions. The first verification closure was carried out in 2007. The Europoort barrier was closed during a heavy storm at a water level that was 40 cm below the official level for closing the barriers. Such conditions may occur again during the coming storm season.
The Minister of Infrastructure and the Environment, Ms Schultz van Haegen, decided in May 2016 that the verification closure of the Europoort barrier will be repeated every 7 years if no proper storm closure (according to the official closing criteria) has taken place during that period. The Deputy General of the Ministry, Mr Jan Hendrik Dronkers, emphasized the relevance of such a verification closure:
‘The operations team uses the verification test closure to practise closing the barriers in storm conditions. In this way, we keep up the specific knowhow and skills required to achieve our aim of guaranteeing the safety of 2 million inhabitants.’
The verification closure will be carried out in addition to the regular test closure, which takes place on an annual basis, and which most recently took place on Saturday 17 September 2016.
On 1 October 2016, Rijkswaterstaat lowered the official closing levels of the Europoort barrier. The barrier will close at 2.60 metres instead of 3.00 metres above NAP (Amsterdam Ordnance Datum) at Rotterdam and/or 2.30 metres instead of 2.90 metres above NAP at Dordrecht. The date of the verification closure depends on the weather conditions. A level of 2.60 metres above NAP or higher at Rotterdam and/or 2.30 metres above NAP at Dordrecht is reached twice a year on average. This means that it is likely (though not definite) that Rijkswaterstaat will carry out the verification closure for storm conditions either this year or the next. As soon as this trial closure has been conducted, the regular closing criteria will reapply.
Closing the Europoort barrier will mean temporary shipping traffic congestions on the Nieuwe Waterweg and the Hartelkanaal. The duration of the congestions will depend on the duration of the storm conditions.

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