The new discharge permit – a further important step

Kassel regional council granted K+S KALI GmbH approval for the discharge of saline wastewater into the Werra for a further eight years, until 31 December 2020. The authority emphasises that potash production in the Werratal is extremely important economically for the region. The new permit is based on the discharge volumes applied for by K+S, but it specifies a step-by-step plan as of December 2015 to reduce the currently valid threshold values.

“The approval is an important signal for our employees and the whole region. It makes it clear that discharge into the Werra will remain a significant building block for the proper disposal of saline wastewater in the future as well”, says Dr. Ralf Diekmann, member of the senior management of K+S KALI GmbH. “However, we will now have to carefully examine feasibility and consequences of the step-by-step plan to reduce the threshold values”.

Cultivation of the subsoil also necessary after 2015

Kassel regional council also confirms K+S in its conviction that the discharge of saline wastewater into the Werra in combination with injection is currently the only proportionate possibility of disposal available. As the approval for injection already expires in 2015, in a separate process, a decision must be made on the further use of the subsoil for the time after that. “Without a balanced spread between discharge and use of the subsoil, the proper disposal of the saline wastewater remaining is unimaginable for the time being”, Diekmann continues.

Wastewater mitigation measures are advancing swiftly

K+S KALI GmbH is at present consistently implementing its comprehensive package of measures for water protection with investments of about € 360 million. Approximately 30 % of the savings targeted have already been made. Thus, the occurrence of saline wastewater has been lowered from 14 to 10.5 million m3 per year. By the end of 2015, a further significant reduction of saline wastewater volumes will have been achieved. An important element of the package of measures is the New Integrated Saline Wastewater Control System (NIS), with which the present injection can be terminated. The expertise for this, which will form the basis for applications for approval, is currently being prepared.

With equal care, K+S is also getting applications ready for national disposal solutions (long-distance pipelines to the Upper Weser and the North Sea). Process-preparing talks on this are already being held with the authorities. This procedure serves the public law agreement’s objective of continuing potash production in the Hesse and Thuringia potash district in the next few decades. All these disposal concepts must meet the criteria accepted by the state governments of Hesse and Thuringia, by K+S and also by the Round Table.

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