On Monday night there was a fire on the premises of the Tesla Gigafactory in Grünheide, Brandenburg. It has now become known that the fire alarm system and sprinklers have not worked in the factory of the US electric car manufacturer since production began. Instead, employees patrol the hall to prevent fires. The competent authority sees no problem in terms of fire protection. Environmentalists have criticized the approach. It was also announced on Wednesday that Tesla had to shut down a waste storage area on its premises. There had been a fire there before.
The authorities are aware that the fire alarm system and the sprinklers are not in operation, said Sascha Gehm, head of the construction and environmental department of the responsible Oder-Spree district, on Thursday. The "Märkische Oderzeitung" had previously reported. Tesla is therefore working on the basis of a preliminary fire protection concept that has been approved by the authorities, said Gehm. Eight employees work around the clock as fire guards and for patrols in the factory. In addition, fire engines are stationed at three locations in the hall.
The Brandenburg Nature Conservation Union reacted with criticism. Spokeswoman Christiane Schröder said that "makeshift things" were not enough. The district is also overwhelmed with the controls. Environmentalists and a citizens' initiative have long criticized the authorities for being too lax with the requirements for Tesla. They also fear the consequences for the environment because part of the site is located in a water protection area. The factory in Grünheide was opened about six months ago.
On Monday, waste such as paper and wood material had burned on the site. Since the extinguishing agent got into the ground, soil samples were examined. According to the district, a result was still pending. The country also prohibited Tesla from continuing to use the waste storage facility on Monday. The company made changes and operated waste treatment, for example, but no approval for it, according to the State Ministry for the Environment. The waste must be removed by the end of October. The shutdown was not a result of the fire.
In May, the factory in Grünheide was subjected to a comprehensive inspection, according to the Ministry of the Environment, which is led by the Green politician Axel Vogel. It was checked whether the system was actually built and operated in accordance with the permit. According to the State Environment Agency, Tesla had largely met state requirements for protection against contamination and nature conservation in the factory in Grünheide.