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Salvage of vehicles in Cologne: Recovery of e-scooters from the Rhine brings new problems

Salvage of vehicles in Cologne : Recovery of e-scooters from the Rhine brings new problems

The salvage of e-scooters from the Rhine in Cologne planned for this week is postponed. E-scooter rental companies and the shipping office blame each other for this. Around 500 vehicles are said to be lying at the bottom of the river.

To recover e-scooters from the bottom of the Rhine in Cologne, according to the Waterways and Shipping Authority (WSA) Rhine so far lacks a coherent concept of the operators. The process of the recovery, initially scheduled for this week, had not been planned in detail, said a spokeswoman for the WSA Rhine on Monday in response to a query from the German Press Agency.

On Friday, the Shared Mobility platform, an association of several e-scooter rental companies, had indefinitely postponed the salvage operation scheduled for this week. An underwater drone was to locate the scooters in the river. A special company is to take care of the recovery of the e-scooters in the area of the Deutz Bridge and the Hohenzollern Bridge. It is feared that damaged batteries of the scooters could pollute the water quality. According to the Cologne district government, however, there are no indications of this so far.

With the submitted plans of the E-Scooter operators there were several problems, added a responsible coworker of the office. For one thing, there are several landing stages in the area. This makes it difficult to secure the water drone that is to lift the scooters with a wire and cable, he said. In addition, the task is difficult for the drone in general: "When the drone lifts the e-scooters out of the water, the whole 20 kilograms act on the device," the employee said. At the shore areas, there is a height difference between the Rhine and the land of about 4.50 meters, he said. In the meantime, operators would therefore also consider using an industrial diver.

State office examines danger for the environment

In addition, the water areas in the area around the Deutz Bridge and the Hohenzollern Bridge are leased, the employee said. If, for example, a hotel boat was moored there, the operator would have to be informed. "No answers have been provided there."

Meanwhile, the water police are also concerned with the e-scooters in the Rhine. "After the media reports, we have received criminal complaints from citizens," a spokesman said. "We are investigating water pollution and the unauthorized handling of waste.“

Meanwhile, whether the e-scooters already pose a danger to the environment is being investigated at the State Office for Nature, Environment and Consumer Protection (LANUV). Limit value transgressions have not occurred so far, the state office said. However, the measurement data would be re-evaluated. "In the process, we are looking at the elements lithium, aluminum, cobalt, nickel and copper." According to the LANUV, experts are checking all the data again specifically for deviations or abnormalities that could be related to the pollutants from the batteries.

How many e-scooters are slumbering at the bottom of the river in Cologne was initially unclear. The "Krake" initiative, which regularly organizes clean-up campaigns in and around the Rhine, estimates the number at around 500. "Last summer, we took out 39 e-scooters along a stretch of around 200 meters," said Christian Stock. It is suspected that the e-scooters are thrown into the Rhine by drunk or annoyed people.

More accidents with e-scooters

Meanwhile, police are warning against driving e-scooters while drunk. Last weekend alone, six people were seriously injured and ten people were slightly injured in accidents involving e-scooters, police said Monday. With all seriously injured and four lightly injured alcohol had been involved.

In May, the Cologne police recorded 43 traffic accidents involving e-scooters, according to its own data. In June, according to a preliminary survey, 69 traffic accidents occurred in which 43 e-scooter users were injured. Eighteen of them were under the influence of alcohol, it said. Ten people had been treated as inpatients in hospitals.

Electric scooters have been part of the street scene in many major German cities for two years, including North Rhine-Westphalia. They are supposed to offer an environmentally friendly alternative to the car. But right from the start, there was trouble because the scooters were parked on sidewalks and in important driveways. Most recently, the possible environmental danger to the Rhine River from e-scooters thrown into the water caused discussion.

Original text: (dpa)

Translation: Mareike Graepel