Sustainability Report 2019/2020

Creating tomorrow’s solutions

Soil and Groundwater

Like many other long-standing chemical companies, WACKER has some soil contamination on its site premises. In the pioneering days of chemical production, nobody was aware of the dangers posed by certain chemicals, or that some substances could persist in the ground for extended 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 2020, we had eliminated a total of 2,125 metric tons of chlorinated hydrocarbons (CHCs). We removed 22 metric tons in 2020.

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 2020, we had removed around 32 metric tons of chlorinated hydrocarbons there, reducing the concentration of harmful substances to a tenth of the original concentration. In order to reduce the discharge of hexachlorobutadiene (HCBD) into the tailrace at the Burghausen site, we are continuing groundwater treatment of the site’s contaminated areas. We are currently removing roughly 80 kilograms of the pollutant per year.

The results of our annual fish contaminant survey at Burghausen indicate that fish from the Salzach river continued to be quite safe to eat during the years under review. The fish were monitored by BNGF GmbH – specialists in nature conservation, waterways and fisheries.

There is some groundwater contamination at our Nünchritz site, too. This predates WACKER’s takeover of the site. Removal was already underway as a part of short-term projects. Pilot measures involved examining purification methods and commencing groundwater treatment. This was followed by an investigation, which we continued during the current period under review, to devise a strategy for further remediation measures. In this and in flood protection at the Nünchritz site, we are collaborating closely with local authorities.