Poland removes 100 tons of dead fish from the Oder River after mysterious mass die-off | Poland

Polish firefighters have recovered 100 tons of dead fish from the Oder River that runs through Germany and Polanddeepening concerns of an environmental disaster for which a cause has not yet been identified.

“We have never had an operation of this scope on a river before,” Monika Nowakowska-Drynda of the national firefighting press office said Tuesday.

She confirmed that around 100 tonnes (220,500 lb) of dead fish had been recovered since Friday. More than 500 firefighters have been recovering the dead fish in Poland with the help of dams, boats, quads and even a drone.

german municipalities swimming and fishing prohibited in the Oder after thousands of dead fish were found floating in the 840km (520mile) river, which stretches from the Czech Republic to the Baltic Sea along the German-Polish border.

Conservationists expressed fear that the mass die-off could wreak havoc on the entire Oder ecosystem. “We have to see how the bird population develops and what will happen to the raccoons and otters,” Karina Dörk, district administrator for Germany’s Uckermark region, told the Tagesspiegel newspaper. “It is a catastrophe that will stay with us for years.”

The cause of the mass die-off remains a mystery, although contamination is one of the leading theories.
The cause of the mass die-off remains a mystery, although contamination is one of the leading theories. Photographer: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

The cause of death remains uncertain, and Poland has offered a reward of 1 million złoty or €210,000 (£180,000) for anyone who can “help find those responsible for this environmental disaster”. “Probably magnitudes of the greatest treasures with full knowledge”, MM Morawiecki

But climate and environment minister Anna Moskwa said on Tuesday that “none of the samples tested so far have shown the presence of toxic substances.” Polish scientists said laboratory tests only found elevated levels of salt.

She said the government was also investigating possible natural causes, and in particular higher concentrations of pollutants and salinity as a result of lower water levels and higher temperatures.

A third hypothesis being examined is that industrial wastewater with a high chlorine content was dumped into the river, he said.

Water samples were sent to laboratories in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Great Britain in the hope of finding the cause.

The first reports of mass fish kills were made by Polish locals and fishermen on July 28. In Poland, the government has also been heavily criticized for not taking swift action. On Friday, Morawiecki fired the chief executive of Polish Waters, the state-owned company in charge of water management, and the head of the environmental protection inspectorate in response to their handling of Oder pollution.

German officials accused Polish authorities of not informing them of the deaths, and were shocked when the wave of lifeless fish floated into view.

The Oder has been known in recent years as a relatively clean river, and 40 species of domestic fish are found in the waterway.

But now, dead fish, some reaching up to 40 centimeters (16 inches), can be seen on the other side of the river.

With Agence France-Presse

About the author


Leave a Comment