Dike collapse ‘could not have been foreseen’
9 January 2004
AMSTERDAM — The dike collapse and flooding in the town at Wilnis last summer was caused by a chain reaction of elements, including the extreme heat, and could not have been predicted, a research bureau has claimed.
On request from the Hoogheemraadschap Amstel, Gooi en Vecht (dike management board), research bureau Geo Delft investigated the cause of the collapse, which affected 450 residents due to the subsequent flooding.
Inquiries have revealed that the peat dike was “stable” and would have remained intact under normal circumstances or even during a heavy storm, an NOS news report said.
But the extreme dry weather caused the peat to dry out and become too light, causing the dike to tear. As a result, water seeped into the dike and it collapsed under the added strain.
An entire suburb of the central town of Wilnis was covered in mud and water causing EUR 60 million in damages last summer. The dike had only been inspected a couple months before it burst. There had been no reason at the time to raise the alarm.
The summer of 2003 will be remembered as the second hottest in Dutch recorded history, just missing out on breaking the 1947 record. It was also one of the driest as the Rhine River in the east of the country fell to record lows.
And as a consequence of the research bureau’s report indicating that the dike collapse could not have been predicted, the dike board has rejected compensation claims from affected residents.
Despite this, it has deposited EUR 150,000 into a disaster fund, where cash from residents and the municipality is being held. The fund must be shared between all residents affected by the dike collapse.
Work will be conducted in the coming months to strength the Wilnis dike. A plan of action to reinforce other peak dikes across the nation has also been prepared and work is expected to start in March.
The Wilnis Council has rejected the Geo Delft investigative report because it excludes the possibility of compensation and has announced that an independent commission will conduct an additional investigation into the cause of the dike collapse.
[Copyright Expatica News 2004]
Subject: Dutch news