Major gas leak at NATO pipeline on Luxembourg doorstep
By Dustin Mertes and John Monaghan
Around 30,000 litres of kerosene have leaked from a NATO pipeline that was damaged during maintenance work in a German town right on the border with Luxembourg, German police said on Wednesday.
The pipeline, which supplies kerosene to locations in Luxembourg including the country’s only commercial airport at Findel, is located in the German village of Echternacherbrück on the Sauer River, directly opposite the Luxembourg town of Echternach.
A lock came loose during routine servicing on Wednesday, the administration of the Bitburg-Prüm district said, which resulted in the pipe shooting out a “meter high fountain” of kerosene.
Around 30,000 litres leaked out in total, police in Trier said, but authorities said there is no danger to residents.
Fire brigades from both countries are currently working to fully secure the site. Oil barriers have been erected in the Sauer River, German media reported, to prevent contamination.
Built in the late 1950s to provide NATO airports with kerosene, the Luxembourg part of the pipeline begins in Echternach and runs via Osweiler, Berburg, Flaxweiler and Oetringen to Findel Airport.
The fact that in parts of Luxembourg the pipeline runs through front gardens and under farmland has led to accidental damage in the past.
In 1988, a farmer attempting to dig drainage ditches tore open the pipe, causing several thousand litres to spill into a field near Flaxweiler.
No official maps are published for security reasons, the Luxemburger Wort reported in 2019, which added that the country’s National Roads Administration is responsible for its maintenance. Luxembourg’s armed forces also carry out regular checks on the network, the report added.
The pipeline forms part of the so-called CEPS, the Central European Pipeline System, which stretches from Antwerp via Frankfurt to Munich.
(Additional reporting by dpa)