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Germans protest that new data centre emissions will cook local trout

Tue 24 Feb 2015

dead-trout-data-center

Local trout farmers in the Bavarian town of Eching, north of Munich, have taken the developer group e-shelter to court over a proposed data centre which is to be cooled using surrounding groundwater.

The local groundwater will be used to cool the centre, before the heated water is returned back into the ground. A pretty ecological-sounding solution one would think, but perhaps not when the tampered water will filter directly into a fish farm’s fresh springs located just a few kilometres east of the proposed site.

The farmers at the ‘Forellenhof Nadler’ farm are highly concerned that the environmental impact of the data centre will harm the health of their fish and threaten their economic livelihood. “We have strong concerns that our stream water and groundwater will be heated, and thus our economic survival will be put at risk,” said farm owner, Anton Kurz. [German]

For trout farming the optimal temperature is between eight and ten degrees, explained Kurz. He argued that trout eggs would be particularly sensitive to any fluctuations in heat. Even a temperature increase of two degrees may induce a higher risk of disease among the hover, and the fish would be more likely to consume ‘bad food’ – other aquatic animals also affected by the temperature change.

“It’s not like all the fish would die if the water becomes two degrees warmer. But disease will occur more often, and the fish will eat bad food – this is where the problems lie” Kurz added.

The farm currently claims “the highest quality standards” with over “70 years of experience […] working in harmony with nature to guarantee a fine taste experience.” It boasts excellent water quality in over 20 “natural, oxygen-rich, and highly perfused” ponds. However, the farm has complained in court that the new data centre will inevitably disrupt this reputation and destroy the quality of trout.

Despite the farmers’ court action, the District Office of Munich approved the data centre build proposal, as well as its removal and return of local groundwater for cooling. The farmers did manage to barter that less groundwater will be taken than originally planned, four million cubic metres as opposed to eight million, but Kurz believes this is still too much and has filed a lawsuit against the developers before the Munich Administrative C ourt. The hearing is scheduled for Tuesday 3rd March.

The planned data centre would be based in nearby Unterschleissheim and span an area of 18,000 sq.m. The operator behind the proposal, e-shelter, currently operates six data centres across Germany, including a small 2,000 sq.m. facility in Munich.

“We have been granted full planning permission and expect that construction will begin soon,” said Melanie Rittweger, an e-shelter spokeswoman. However, the last word on this will not come before the judge’s final decision next Tuesday.

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