Thousands of people across Europe are helping to clean up the Rhine and its tributaries this weekend. In the west of Germany, the helpers find tons of debris from the flood.
[Cologne / Mainz -] Wine barrels, beverage crates, garden furniture and even a district heating pipe: Thousands of people have freed the banks of the Rhine from the debris from the flood disaster.
More than three tons of garbage were collected in one place in Cologne-Stammheim alone, said Christian Stock from the Krake association. The campaign was part of the “RhineCleanUp”, to which tens of thousands of volunteers were expected to collect rubbish on the banks of the Rhine and other rivers on Saturday. Garbage should also be collected along the Ruhr in Essen and on the banks of the Main and Moselle.
Overall, the initiators of the “RhineCleanUp” reckoned with up to 40,000 volunteers on many rivers in Germany and neighboring countries.
The 20 meter long district heating pipe that was washed ashore in Cologne was sawn up with a hacksaw. “This is alluvial debris from the Ahr valley,” said Stock. He had expected the large amounts of rubbish in the Rhine after the flood: “After the flood disaster, something urgently had to be done.” Storms with unusually heavy rainfall triggered a flood disaster in Rhineland-Palatinate and North Rhine-Westphalia in mid-July. Whole areas were devastated by the masses of water.
The aim of the “RhineCleanUp” is to clean up tons of waste, especially the Rhine from its source in Switzerland to its mouth in the Netherlands. Around 300 groups took part in 2020, and the number of garbage collectors was estimated at 35,000.
The Rhineland-Palatinate climate protection minister Anne Spiegel (Greens), who took part in the campaign herself, spoke of an important signal to raise the population’s awareness of the extent of the littering of the landscape and the effects on water bodies. Plastic pollution and its consequences for water ecosystems are particularly worrying. According to the Upper Middle Rhine Valley Association, experts assume that the Rhine alone flushes 380 tons of plastic into the North Sea every year. [dpa]