TenneT clears last Riffgat link bombs

A pathway has been cleared for the grid link to Germany’s 108MW Riffgat offshore wind farm following the removal of 30 tonnes of explosive munitions, said transmission operator TenneT.

Bomb clearance experts working for TenneT declared the final stretch of the 50km submarine cable route safe last week after disposing of the last batch of World War 2 debris, which included grenades and boxes of ammunition.

The all-clear means TenneT can start work on the final section of the link to the wind farm, which has already been completed by utility EWE.

Riffgat is located in the German North Sea, 15km northwest of the island of Borkum. According to TenneT the level of munitions found on the route was far higher than expected, delaying work on the connection.

TenneT said it expects completion of the connection at the beginning of 2014 “due to the continued unpredictability of the weather”.

World War 2 explosives have become a familiar problem to the fledgling German offshore wind sector.

Some 1.6 million tonnes of weapons from both world wars are still lying on the bottom of the North and Baltic Seas, estimates Heinrich Hirdes, a company specialising in explosive ordnance disposal services.

Allied bombers often dropped unused bombs on the island of Helgoland or the open water when returning to UK bases, while some additional ammunition ended up in the sea for training purposes after the war.

The weaponry near Borkum probably was dumped there by the German army at the end of the war.