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World's longest self-closing flood barrier tested in Netherlands

Staff Writer |
A 300-meter self-closing flood barrier, the longest in the world, is built in the historical fishing harbor of Spakenburg in central Netherlands, a latest addition to the low-lying country's innovative approach in flood protection.

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"This flood barrier is a beautiful example of tailor-made solutions we develop to protect vulnerable areas, especially urban areas, a task which could not be done with traditional dike reinforcements," Roeland Hillen, director of the Dutch Flood Protection Program told journalists attending a test of the barrier on Monday.

Witnessed by locals, water officials and journalists, the barrier came out of the ground and rose to the planned height of 80 centimetres in about 20 minutes as water was pumped from the small port into a kind of "pockets" underneath to push it up.

When deactivated the barrier disappears into the pavement. Only the steel top that stretches around the harbor is visible.

"That is exactly what happens when the water in the port rises if a severe storm hits the historical harbor," explained Hillen.

Steel tanks beneath the barrier, made of plaques of lightweight Kevlar material with a steel top, will then be naturally filled by the high water levels.

The inflow of water will autonomously push the barrier up and out of its underground resting place.

Such a construction cost 7 million euros, three times more than a traditional dike.

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