Soil and Groundwater

Like many other long-standing chemical companies, WACKER has some on-site soil contamination. In the pioneering days of chemical production, nobody was aware of the dangers posed by certain chemicals, or that some substances could remain in the ground for prolonged periods without undergoing degradation.

To remediate this legacy of contamination, WACKER has been extracting air from the soil at the Burghausen site since 1989. This predominantly removes highly volatile halogenated hydrocarbons from the soil, which are then incinerated to render them harmless. By the end of 2018, we had removed a total of 2,086 metric tons of ; the amount of contaminants removed in 2018 was 23 metric tons.

Since 2003, we have been using a groundwater stripping plant to treat an area of localized groundwater contamination east of the Burghausen site. By the end of 2018, 31 metric tons of CHCs had been removed, with pollutant concentrations having been reduced to one tenth of their original levels. In order to reduce the discharge of into the tailrace, we are continuing groundwater treatment of the site’s contaminated areas. Currently, 23 kilograms of the pollutant is being removed per year. The results of our annual fish contaminant survey at Burghausen indicate that fish from the Salzach river are quite safe to eat. The fish were monitored by BNGF GmbH – Specialists in Nature Conservation, Bodies of Water, and Fisheries (website available in German only).

There is some groundwater contamination at our Nünchritz site, too. This predates WACKER’s takeover of the site and has already been cleaned up by means of temporary measures. As a temporary pilot measure, purification methods were examined and groundwater treatment started. This was followed by a remedial investigation, which we continued during the current period under review, to devise a concept for further remediation measures. In this and in flood protection at the Nünchritz site, we are collaborating closely with local authorities.

Chlorinated Hydrocarbons (CHCs)
Organic compounds containing chlorine. They are used, for example, in the manufacture of plastics and solvents. CHCs are chemically stable and fat-soluble; some of them are environmental toxins.
Hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD)
A chlorinated organic compound which, at room temperature, is a colorless liquid with a mild odor. It occurs as a by-product in certain chemical production and combustion processes, such as the synthesis of tetrachloroethene, trichloroethene or carbon tetrachloride. The EU’s water framework directive classifies HCBD as hazardous. The results of the European Emission Inventory show that most of the reported emissions originate from bulk production of basic organic chemicals.