In a dense fog, a tanker barge carrying 2,000 tonnes of benzene collided with a closed weir near Grave on Thursday 29 December 2016. No one was injured during this incident. However, the deck of the vessel sustained heavy damage and a small amount of the toxic substance benzene was released. The weir was severely damaged as well, causing a three-metre drop in the water level between Grave and Sambeek. This drop had major consequences for both inland vessels and houseboats in the surrounding area. Owing in part to the thick fog, emergency services had great difficulty in assessing the full scope of the incident. The site of the accident is located precisely on the border between two municipalities and three safety regions. As a result, the various parties involved were unable to form a shared view of the incident and coordinate their actions.

Inland skipper who transport hazardous substances must take additional measures to ensure safety in dense fog. Such measures might entail curtailing the working hours or relieving the skipper on duty sooner. In addition, Rijkswaterstaat must be given authority to halt local shipping traffic in extreme weather conditions. It is also vital that crisis management and emergency services in areas along the borders of various regions are coordinated more effectively.


The Dutch Safety Board makes the following recommendations, for which every effort has been made to take into account all current developments in the relevant sectors.

To the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management:

  • 1. That Rijkswaterstaat be provided with the legal authority, together with a clear assessment framework based on that authority, to halt shipping traffic locally, entirely or in part, in extreme weather conditions;
  • 2. That the Grave case be included in the study currently taking place at an EU level into the workload of crew members on inland vessels;
  • 3. That the initiative be taken to enter into binding agreements with the inland waterways sector and the chemical sector.
To the Safety Region of North Brabant, the Safety Region of South Gelderland and the Safety Region of North Limburg:
  • 4. That a coordinating safety region be set up and given responsibility for planning and coordinating incident response measures in the interlinked high-risk water system of Noord-Brabant / Limburg.

To the Minister of Infrastructure and Water Management:

  • 5. That a collision risk analysis be made for bridges, locks and weirs, including an explicit and integrated assessment of potential measures to limit the likelihood of collisions;
  • 6. That the obsolete Information and Monitoring System for Shipping (IVS90) be replaced at the earliest opportunity with the improved IVS Next monitoring system;
  • 7. That Rijkswaterstaat’s crisis organisation for tackling waterway incidents be improved by embedding alerting of the relevant safety region and by improving the safeguarding of specialist knowledge within the crisis organisation.



Collision with the weir near Grave by a benzene tanker



  • Press

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Investigation data

Theme Shipping

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Status Completed

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