Focus on the environment & nature conservation
K+S operates in accordance with the state of the art. This also produces liquid and solid wastes. There is no waste-free potash industry in the world.
The liquid, saline residues (process wastewater and tailings pile water) are discharged into the Werra in accordance with the relevant permits at the Werra plant (a) and (b), if a limit value is reached at the Gerstungen level, into the plate dolomite. Through a variety of measures, K+S has succeeded in significantly reducing the salt pollution of the Werra. In the 1970s and 1980s, peak values of 40,000 milligrams of chloride per liter were reached as a result of the discharge of the eastern German sites. Since 2000, the limit of 2,500 mg/l at the Gerstungen gauge has been continuously complied with thanks to cross-national and cross-location salt level control.
In addition: In the period from 1997 to 2015, the volume of waste water was reduced sustainably from 20 million m³ to seven million m³. This was achieved, among other things, by using the so-called ESTA process, an electrostatic treatment process for potash crude salts developed and patented by K+S, which does not require the use of water and is significantly cheaper in terms of energy consumption than the classic wet treatment processes. In addition, the package of water-protection measures is being consistently implemented.
The solid residues are tailings piled in consideration of all environmental requirements. These are just a few examples: Dust measurements in the surrounding area, permanent groundwater monitoring, underground sealing and catchment of tailings pile water in tailings pile ditches.
In order to further relieve the burden on the environment and secure production in the long term, K+S is working on the implementation and testing of long-term solutions within the framework of the "Salt" management plan of the river basin community Weser (FGG Weser) and the four-phase plan developed with the State of Hesse. These include covering the dumps, stacking large quantities of saline waste water underground and building a pipeline to the Oberweser. Here, K+S participates in the "Working Group on Salt Reduction" of the FGG Weser. (Status report 2016)
Minimize the impact on the environment
We at K+S are clearly committed to the constant and continuous improvement of operational environmental protection and to the fulfilment of the environmental goals that have been set. In order to keep the impact of production on the environment as low as possible, an environmental management system has initially been implemented for tailings pile management at the Werra plant. The environmental management manual produced in this context helps each individual employee to comply with and implement production that is as environmentally friendly as possible, as well as waste management and disposal.
In 2018, environmental management for the Wintershall and Hattorf tailings pile management systems at the Werra plant of K+S KALI GmbH was certified in accordance with ISO 14001:2015. The environmental management of the Werra plant was audited for this in May. On behalf of DEKRA Certification GmbH, three auditors spent three days at the plant, inspecting the management, core and support processes as well as all analysis measures. Based on the good results, they then suggested to DEKRA Certification GmbH that the Werra plant be certified. The certificate was presented by DEKRA Certification GmbH at the end of June. The next inspection will take place next year.
We help where we can
We compensate unavoidable interventions in nature and environment to the same extent - the compensation takes place in the same natural area as close as possible to the site of the intervention. Among the nature conservation measures we have implemented are, for example, the extensification or conversion of arable land in Oberlengsfeld as well as the irrigation of a meadow near Motzfeld or the initiated park forest measure in the Malchustal valley in the municipality of Ludwigsau. Between 2012 and 2014, we also reforested 34 hectares in our region. Close and trusting contact with the owners (often part-time farmers) is important to us. In addition to the compensation and replacement measures and reforestations mentioned above, we have implemented various measures to protect rare and protected species such as the dormouse and the yellow-bellied toad.
Potash production is not possible without tailings pile management!
At the Werra potash plant, about 19 million tonnes of crude salt are mined annually from which high-quality products - mineral fertilizers, pharmaceutical salts and industrial products - are made. As with all raw material processing, solid and liquid production residues cannot be avoided despite technically advanced processes.
The solid residues are almost exclusively rock salt, which is not suitable for economic use because of the accompanying materials. These residues are put on piles with the greatest possible consideration for environmental requirements. Without tailings pile management, our potash production would be technically and economically impossible.
In order to create the prerequisites for maintaining production in good time, the tailings pile areas at the Hattorf (Philippsthal) and Wintershall (Heringen) sites must be expanded.