The cavern facility in Etzel is one of the cleanest and most environmentally friendly storage facilities, as it emits virtually no pollutants or noise pollution.
The actual operation of the caverns is carried out centrally by the surface facilities at the existing Etzel site. The facilities themselves do not have any significant environmental impact, as the pumps, gas compressor systems and other equipment are operated electrically. The existing compressor plants are soundproofed to prevent noise emissions in the surrounding area. Not the operation, but necessary construction measures can temporarily and locally lead to an increased noise development, especially due to the associated construction site traffic.
STORAG ETZEL endeavors to minimize any adverse effects on local residents during necessary construction work by providing information, regulating traffic, and, if necessary, by providing noise protection and regulating working hours.
Environmental protection is a daily practice at STORAG ETZEL. For us, this means: We naturally comply with all environmental and energy laws, other applicable regulations and technical standards. Environmental impacts are already taken into account during the planning and construction of plants, and emissions and waste quantities are continuously reduced during operation in order to conserve resources.
The energy consumption of our plants is monitored and further developed in terms of efficiency. Quality assurance in the areas of plant safety, energy and the environment plays a major role for us, which is why regular reviews and assessments are carried out to continuously improve our environmental and energy performance.
Environmental management at STORAG ETZEL
STORAG ETZEL is actively committed to environmental protection. The environmental management of STORAG ETZEL rests on 3 pillars:
- Reduce any environmental impact on air, water, soil during the operating phase.
- To develop the Etzel cavern facility habitat (humans, flora and fauna)
- To counteract the long-term effects of mining (subsidence)
We are aware that our business activities are located in the "industry and environment" area. An outside perspective is also important to us in our day-to-day business. For this reason, we not only involve external consultants in this area, but have also set ourselves the goal of having our environmental management system and the work processes behind it certified in 2019 in accordance with the requirements of the DIN EN ISO 14001 standard.
What are our environmental management priorities since 2019 with regard to our 3 pillars?
1. Reduce potential environmental impacts on air, water, soil during the operating phase
As part of our daily work, we focus on continuous improvement in order to avoid any environmental impact as far as possible or to limit it to the minimum necessary. We pay particular attention to individual aspects.
One example: During the operating phase, environmental damage from leaks is a risk. The joints of piping systems are sensitive in this respect. STORAG ETZEL has set itself the goal of testing technical progress, e.g. in the area of modern leakage detection systems, in everyday life and thus going beyond the legally required standard, the so-called "state of the art". Since 2019, we have increasingly started test series on new technologies and procedures in this context. We will keep you informed about findings and applications on this page.
But also in the context of the realization of other (construction) projects, we have set ourselves the goal of improving environmental performance and thus, in turn, exceeding the legally required standards. Here are some more examples:
- STORAG ETZEL goes beyond the legal requirements with regard to the piggability of the piping system and wall thickness of the pipes in the south field rehabilitation, replacement of piping, among other things.
- The plant technology, e.g. at the STORAG ETZEL operating site, is continuously optimized with a view to water pollution control
- Since 2018, STORAG ETZEL has increasingly used electrical equipment instead of combustion engines in the cavern field in order to reduce local emissions
- STORAG ETZEL only works with certified suppliers for waste and recycling material. For us, this ensures proper handling of residual and recyclable materials.
2. Develop the habitat of the Etzel cavern facility (humans, flora and fauna)
Both the STORAG ETZEL operating areas and our compensation areas give us the opportunity to create new habitats for flora and fauna. In recent years, several measures have been implemented in the north field for this purpose, such as a game field and a pheasant feeder for winter feeding of free-living animals in consultation with the local hunting community. In 2021, we worked with a biology consultant and a local contractor to convert a total of seven areas totaling about 700 square meters to wildflower meadows and strips. Our large compensation areas are maintained in a targeted manner and developed ecologically in coordination with the nature conservation authority and experts.
3. Counteracting the long-term effects of mining (subsidence)
Subsidence as a result of mining and its possible effects are a central topic today and in the coming decades. Since cavern construction began at Etzel in 1971, a very shallow depression, invisible to the naked eye, has formed over the cavern field as a direct effect of mining activities, leveling off toward the edges to such an extent that no measurable effects are detected there.
In order to map the future development of subsidence during the operating period and subsequent cavern storage, STORAG ETZEL has had a subsidence forecast drawn up that shows the subsidence progression over 300 years. Based on this, an impact analysis shows that, as a result, the subsidence effects are manageable and that the feasibility of "keeping the subsidence area dry" can be achieved using proven dewatering measures. We will continuously inform about further steps and planning of countermeasures under the heading "Impact analysis" on this website.
Further commitment to sustainability: STORAG ETZEL representatives trained as sustainability coordinators
Financial support of the project by the European Union with funds of the European Social Fund
A representative of STORAG ETZEL was recently trained for the first time as a "sustainability coordinator". This ongoing training will create the basis for defining and implementing sustainability goals at STORAG ETZEL by the fall of 2022.
Background: For a company, sustainability means acting in a socially just and environmentally compatible manner under economic conditions.
Sustainability therefore refers to the areas of ecology, economy and social issues, and the aim is to achieve a balance between these three areas within the company.
Key performance indicators are to be introduced in the company for the above-mentioned areas. By taking into account commercial, environmental and social performance indicators, employees, investors and customers of the company can gain a realistic perspective on the respective implementation of the defined corporate values. Establishing this transparency is increasingly required by companies.
The ongoing training is financially supported by the European Union in the form of the European Social Fund and "Europe for Lower Saxony - ESF support for the regions of Lower Saxony". For more information, visit www.europa-fuer-niedersachsen.de.