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Santina - Blénod-lès-Pont-à-Mousson english summary

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publié le 15 février 2006 (modifié le 10 février 2011)

Technical inquiry report on the river navigation accident which occurred on the Moselle River in Blénod-lès-Pont-à-Mousson (Meurthe & Moselle) on July 28, 2004

On July 28, 2004, the SANTINA, a large gauge Rhenish motor barge carrying the Dutch ensign, going downstream empty entered the lock of Blénod-lès-Pont-à-Mousson (Moselle, France) when a fire started in the engine room.

The bargeman immediately evacuated the barge with his family and all the other persons on board, namely a total of eight persons including a physically disabled one. The bargeman then reinforced the mooring.
The lock keeper alerted the firemen who arrived at the scene at 3:30 P.M. 

Shortly after their arrival and as they were positioned at the entry to the engine room to try and extinguish the fire, the barge’s engine started racing. The barge broke away and crashed into the downstream gate of the lock.

In spite of several attempts to stop the engine and fight the fire, the engine only died down two hours later. The fire was finally controlled around 8 P.M. only.

Both the lock gate and the barge suffered major damage. The lock was unavailable for several days.

The analysis of the fire and its causes both pointed to a failure of the power generator which was running at the time, and was the ignition source.

The racing of the engine at full power was the main reason why the lock gate was hit as the acceleration was a consequence of the fire.

Also, the fact that the engine room was not contained, the absence or the failure of safety devices on the engine’s control systems as well as deficient behaviour and communication contributed to make things worse.

Recommendations were produced on the reinforcement of regulations and the inspection of safety devices on board river boats and barges used for the prevention of fires and for fire fighting. Also, recommendations were drafted to lower risks and limit the consequences in case a boat crashes into a lock gate.