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Protests against Tesla in Erkner, Brandenburg

Photo: Monika Skolimowska / dpa

The US electric car manufacturer Tesla has regretted the leakage of substances in several environmental incidents on the premises of the factory in Grünheide, but rejected concerns. "It can be ruled out that there was environmental damage in the process," Tesla representative Alexander Riederer said on Monday at a hearing of critics on the planned expansion of the factory in Erkner. In one case, the floor was dug out and examined for contamination. "Every incident is one too many. (...) Of course, in the future, we will try not to have any incidents at all." A local resident had asked about the safety of the factory and demanded an apology from Tesla for any incidents.

Since the opening of the factory in March last year, the carmaker had reported 26 environmental accidents, according to the State Office for the Environment. These include spilled substances such as paint, diesel and fires. According to the State Environment Agency, the incidents were not incidents within the meaning of the Major Accidents Ordinance. Part of the factory's site is located in the water protection area. Stern had also reported that after a fire in September 2020, up to 300 liters of extinguishing water seeped into the ground. The State Environment Agency did not provide any information on this. Tesla wants to expand its production capacity to one million a year. According to the company's latest data, around 250,000 vehicles are currently produced per year.

Headlines on occupational health and safety

Tesla has been struggling with negative headlines at the Grünheide site for weeks. At the end of September, Stern reported that there were a striking number of accidents at work at the plant. Tesla rejected allegations of inadequate occupational health and safety, but rejected them. "For us at Gigafactory Berlin-Brandenburg, the health protection of our employees is our top priority, and thus also occupational safety," the company announced.

According to the magazine, Tesla had reported 2022 reportable accidents between July and November 190. According to the German Employers' Liability Insurance Association for Wood and Metal, 2022 reportable accidents per 16 employees occurred statistically at car manufacturers and suppliers in 1000. If Tesla's workforce of around 2022 employees for May 4000 were taken as a basis, statistically speaking, 64 reportable accidents would be normal - significantly fewer than the 190 researched by Stern.