The Statistical Federal Office reports a positive environmental balance: The lowest amount of pollutants released into water bodies in 2022 than ever before.



Foto: Karina Hessland / IMAGO

Last year, there were fewer accidents involving hazardous substances in Germany than ever before. The Federal Statistical Office recorded a total of 1878 incidents where pollutants entered rivers or lakes uncontrollably. This was five percent less than in 2021 and the lowest level since the start of the time series in 1997, as announced by the office in Wiesbaden on Wednesday.

A total of 7.1 million liters of pollutants were released in the accidents. 5.1 million liters of them could be recovered, but approximately two million liters remained in the environment, causing mostly permanent damage, according to the statisticians. „The amount of released pollutants varies significantly from year to year depending on the extent of the accidents,“ explained the experts. „In 2022, the amount of released pollutants was relatively low. However, in 2022, a much larger amount of pollutants remained in the environment compared to the previous year.“

Von Jauche bis Quecksilber

Wassergefährdende Stoffe werden in vier Gefährdungsklassen eingeteilt. Als »allgemein wassergefährdend« gelten zum Beispiel Jauche oder Gülle, »schwach wassergefährdend« sind etwa Ethanol oder Wasserstoffperoxid, »deutlich wassergefährdend« sind zum Beispiel Heizöl oder Diesel, »stark wassergefährdend« sind Stoffe wie Quecksilber oder Benzin.

The majority of the 2022 pollutants that remained in the environment belonged to the first group. Less than ten percent of accidents involved substances that posed a significant risk to water. Accidents involving highly hazardous substances accounted for only 0.4 percent of the total amount of substances remaining in nature. However, it is important to note that these substances have the most damaging effects, according to the statisticians.

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Water bodies are particularly at risk. Out of a total of 1878 accidents in 2022, the leaked substances reached a surface water body, such as a river or a lake, in 402 cases. This resulted in fish mortality in 14 accidents. Groundwater was contaminated a total of 29 times. In two cases, the water supply was directly affected.