20 January 2017
Renewed Suspension of Production at Hattorf Inevitable
At the weekend, the Werra plant’s Hattorf site will have to suspend production once again after having just resumed operations this January 2 after a stoppage lasting several months. The reason for the suspension is the current low level of water in the Werra. At the same time, the volumes that can be injected daily under the terms of the new deep-well injection permit that was issued at the end of 2016 have been severely restricted. The combination of these two factors has resulted in an inevitable bottleneck for saline wastewater disposal.
Since production resumed at the Hattorf site, intensive use was made of all the available means of disposal (discharging into the Werra, deep-well injecting, mine disposal). However, the primary means of disposal (discharging into the Werra) is only available to a limited extent because of the low level of water at the present time, with the result that not all the saline wastewater that arises during production can be disposed of. Over the past few days, excess wastewater has been temporarily stored in storage basins so that it can then be discharged into the river when the Werra water level rises.
The capacity of the storage basins for holding production wastewater has almost been exhausted so that production at the Hattorf site, with the exception of the production of Epsom salt, will have to be suspended as of January 21, 2017 until further notice. From today’s perspective, it will only be possible for production to start up again once the Werra water flow is appreciably higher.
The normal Werra water flow at this time of the year averages just under 50 cubic meters per second for January. It has actually only amounted to 10‑15 cubic meters per second in January 2017 so far. At these levels, effectively only tailings pile runoff can be discharged into the Werra and scarcely any production wastewater in order to comply with existing threshold values.
To increase flexibility with regard to wastewater disposal, K+S is continuing to work rigorously on finding additional means for the recycling and disposal of saline wastewater. The focus in this regard is on disposal in own and third‑party mines and/or caverns in close proximity to the sites as well as in regions further afield involving shipping by truck or rail. In addition, work is continuing as planned on long-term measures to prevent saline wastewater from arising, including the construction of a KCF plant in particular. Once it is completed, the disposal situation should improve somewhat from 2018 onward.
Saline Wastewater Disposal and the Deep-Well Injection Permit
When the Werra plant is operating at full capacity, it produces (including tailings pile runoff) about 20,000 cubic meters of saline wastewater per day. The wastewater is primarily discharged into the Werra – in strict compliance with the threshold values set by the authorities – before deep-well injecting can be used for disposal.
On December 23, 2016 the Kassel Regional Council approved the continued use of deep-well injecting until December 31, 2021. The annual injection volume amounts to 1.5 million cubic meters. The permit allows for a maximum of 5,000 cubic meters of production wastewater to be injected into the plate dolomite daily. The injecting of tailings pile runoff is prohibited.
About K+S KALI GmbH
K+S KALI GmbH based in Kassel extracts crude salts containing potassium, magnesium and sulphur from its six mines in Germany. These are used to produce a wide range of fertiliser specialties and preliminary products for many different technical, industrial and pharmaceutical applications. K+S KALI GmbH is one of the world’s leading suppliers of potash and magnesium products. The company belonging to the K+S Group employs about 8,000 people.
You can find further information about K+S KALI GmbH on the company website at www.kali-gmbh.com
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