Doing Trust and Crisis Communication. Narratives of the 2021 Explosion in the Chempark Leverkusen


  • Lucas Ferl
  • Frank Fiedrich
  • Tim Lukas
  • Cécile Stehrenberger
  • Bo Tackenberg


According to governmental recommendations and scholarship concerning crisis communication, which have emerged from the 1980s onwards, an important characteristic of successful disaster-related crisis communication is its capacity for developing or restoring trust. This article demonstrates how, in the aftermath of a tank farm explosion on 27 July 2021 in the waste incineration plant Chempark in Leverkusen, the managing company, Currenta, engaged in crisis communication in a way that can indeed be interpreted as a form of ‘doing trust.’ By offering a discourse analysis of the statements published by Currenta on a newly created info page and its Twitter account, the paper explores the emergence of a specific crisis narrative connected to that aim. Our study shows how Currenta’s crisis narrative depicted the company as trustworthy by referring to its attempts at reflecting the values of integrity, transparency and (willingness to) dialogue. We situate these attempts in the context of competing narratives which, disseminated by other actors such as journalists, environmental activists and individual social media users, ‘revealed’ an alleged deceptiveness of the company and presented it as untrustworthy.