15,000 liters of chemicals spilled in the Tesla factory in Berlin – according to the environmental agency “no danger” for the soil
A “water-polluting liquid” leaked out at the Tesla plant in Grünheide. According to the Environment Agency, none of this has made its way into the ground, but environmentalists are concerned.
When Tesla opened its Gigafactory in Grünheide, Brandenburg, in March, German politicians made a big splash for CEO Elon Musk. Federal Chancellor Olaf Scholz and Economics Minister Robert Habeck were guests at the opening ceremony. However, environmentalists see the new, huge plant as a threat to nature and the local population – and are now even calling for a temporary production stop after an accident in the plant.
On April 11, a water-polluting liquid escaped in the paint shop of the Tesla factory. According to the Brandenburg State Office for the Environment (LfU), it was “15 cubic meters of treatment bath from electrocoating” – i.e. 15,000 liters of chemicals. Tesla duly reported the incident, and the LfU gave the all-clear a little later: “No water-polluting liquid leaked out or got into the ground,” said a spokesman. “There was no danger to the environment or the neighborhood.” However, environmentalists have doubts.
Environmentalists concerned after Tesla incident
A drone video shows a pool of liquid in front of the paint shop as early as April 10th – i.e. one day before the officially reported incident. “That’s very worrying,” said Steffen Schorcht from the Grünheide citizens’ initiative to the “Tagesspiegel”. “Water-polluting substances are used in this plant. Our fears that it should not have been built here are confirmed.” The activists are particularly concerned about the fact that the Tesla factory is located in a drinking water protection area.
However, the State Environment Agency clearly contradicts the environmentalists’ statements. According to this, the stain in the video published on YouTube came from a function test of a fire-fighting water pump that was carried out daily with fresh water. This was shown by other drone videos viewed by the environmental agency, the agency said.
State Environment Agency gives the all-clear
Still, debate continues as to when the incident took place and how serious it was. The Ecological Democratic Party (ÖDP) in Brandenburg has published pictures from the factory that are said to have been leaked to it. A liquid bound with binder can be seen in front of the hall, from which the ÖDP concludes that the chemicals also ran onto the factory road. Some of the liquid probably ran into an open ditch and seeped there, according to a statement.
However, the State Environment Agency also contradicts this representation. A disposal company picked up hoses from the factory, and two to three liters of the contents leaked out. “It is a case of incorrect operation by the disposal company,” said Thomas Frey, spokesman for the State Environment Agency, the “Tagesspiegel”.