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Consequences of the flood disaster: Fight against the waste chaos in the Voreifel region

Consequences of the flood disaster : Fight against the waste chaos in the Voreifel region

The disposal of the garbage masses in the Voreifel is progressing. A special machine from Krefeld is also in use. The RSAG disposal facility in Miel is open again - but not yet for everyone.

Over the weekend, countless full-time and volunteer helpers were once again working tirelessly to repair the damage caused by the floods in the Voreifel region. Among them were the employees of the Rhein-Sieg Waste Management Company (RSAG). Also Saturday and Sunday they transported garbage mountains away from the places. With 25 garbage and container vehicles the RSAG was on the weekend working mainly in Rheinbach and Swisttal.

In addition, the previously flooded waste sorting facility in Swisttal-Miel reopened for the first time - also thanks to the commissioning of emergency generators. After the site had been pumped dry at the end of last week, people were able to bring bulky waste there again on Saturday and Sunday - but only those affected by the flood.

Little happening on Saturday morning

But to the surprise of the RSAG employees, who had prepared themselves for a lot of "bulky waste customers," little happened until around noon on Saturday: Only about a dozen people from the area brought their bulky waste. Many others, which wanted to deliver biowaste, had to be sent back meanwhile without unloading: The situation capacities for bio garbage waste are needed in Miel at present for the intermediate storage of bulky waste.

Dennis Löwen from Ollheim, who together with a friend delivered ceiling panels, a fan heater and a couch for disposal, was one of those who came. Actually, he wanted to unload everything as before on the Ollheimer village square: "But there were two employees of the RSAG with a garbage truck this time, which sent us to Miel." The reason they were given: RSAG had a lot to do on site. For the two Ollheimers, this was also completely understandable.

Used oil in the soil

Johann Neudorf from Miel also unloaded a trailer full of bulky waste from the Spiessenhof horse farm. On his farm, there is a lot of bulky waste. "The water was at chest height on the entire property," Neudorf reported. He said some of it had already been disposed of at the Ollheim operation of the Hündgen company. He said he was glad the RSAG facility was open again, as that was a better alternative than disposing of bulky waste at public collection sites. Neudorf, however, has much more to do: Used oil and gasoline had seeped into the soil. He is now trying to remove this and bring it to Miel.

RSAG spokesman Joachim Schölzel explained that the plant there had itself been severely damaged by the storm disaster and was currently only partially operational. He therefore asks for understanding that the facility is still open this week particularly for flood victims. "Waste containing harmful substances such as paints, varnishes or solvents are also accepted there," he added.

At Hündgen’s waste costs money again

Using separate vehicles, RSAG also collected large electrical appliances destroyed by the storm over the weekend. "The collected waste is transported to RSAG interim storage facilities, where it is prepared for further transport to the waste recycling plant," Schölzel explained. Unlike bulky waste, electrical appliances do not end up in the waste incineration plant, but at the recycling yards, such as the one in Troisdorf.

While the RSAG yard in Miel was flooded, the company Hündgen Entsorgung had made its facility in Ollheim available. Until Saturday, flood victims could deliver their waste there free of charge. That changed starting from Monday, said Christian Hündgen on inquiry: „The problem is: We have the suspicion that gradually free riders were using us.“

Many deliveries had recently looked rather as if people had quite simply decluttered. "We're not going to turn anyone away," Hündgen emphasized, "but as of now, deliveries will be subject to charges again because of this." If those affected in the flood zone want to order containers, however, it will still be free of charge, he said.

Hündgen looked back on a challenging week. His cell phone had been ringing constantly - because of calls for help from those affected or inquiries from municipalities and companies. An estimated 100 of his employees were constantly on duty in the Rhein-Sieg district, but also in the districts of Ahrweiler and Euskirchen. "Many have turned up privately to help," he said.

Help from Bonn, Cologne and Krefeld

After the yard in Ollheim had filled up threateningly fast at the beginning of the week, a regulated inflow and outflow of waste had set in over the course of the week, he said. In close cooperation with partner companies and local authorities, it was also possible to manage the day-to-day business. It was a relief when the Internet was finally available again. The landline, on the other hand, was still dead, according to Hündgen.

When it comes to waste removal, RSAG receives support from Bonnorange and Abfallwirtschaftsbetriebe Köln (AWB), among others. The company IK Umwelt Gruppe from Krefeld has also been working in the Rhein-Sieg district for days. The company manages around 300 trucks throughout NRW, reported managing director Mirco Illian. The company has offered 200 of these to the affected areas. 40 trucks and 55 employees had been on duty in Rheinbach all week. For a few days now, the company has also been helping Swisttal; talks with the Altenahr municipality are already underway.

"Our company specializes in the removal and disposal of large volumes of material. Due to their size, our trucks are not suitable for transporting the material from the streets to the collection points," Illian explained. Instead, employees drive the material from the collection sites to sorting facilities with spare capacity and to the waste incineration plant in Bonn.

"For loading the materials, we currently have ten large machines, i.e. excavators and wheel loaders with 20 to 30 tons operating weight, in use around Rheinbach," Illian said. How many trucks can be used also always depends on the capacities of the collection and receiving points.

(Original text: Katharina Weber and Axel Vogel, Translation: Mareike Graepel)