Environmental disaster on the Oder: up to 100 tons of dead fish

Environmental disaster on the Oder: up to 100 tons of dead fish

A spokesman for the Polish professional fire brigade said firefighters had recovered about 80 tonnes of dead fish along the nearly 500km-long Oder since Friday. According to projections by a German water expert, up to 100 tonnes would have died.

The scale is comparable to the Sandoz disaster of 1986, Maier said. At that time, a fire broke out in a Swiss warehouse of the chemical company Sandoz (now Novartis). Large amounts of contaminated extinction water entered the Rhine and caused the death of large numbers of fish. The accident at the time was a cause for international alarm and plans for a denunciation on the part of the riverside people – and that is exactly what was not carried out on the Oder, said water expert Sascha Maier.

Suspected “illegal dumping of chemicals”

According to him, the environmental organization BUND assumes that there was “an illegal discharge of chemicals” into the Oder from the Polish side. “We can assume that there was a wave of pollution that flowed through the Oder.” In addition, there are factors such as the lack of water or the expansion works of the Oder, which would put the fish and the ecosystem under stress beforehand.

“Central Failure in Poland”

Maier criticized the fact that the expansion work was being “controlled very slowly” on the Polish side. Even after the first reports of dead fish, the “central flaw in Poland” was there. But not all went well on the German side in response to last week’s fish kills. More labs should have been included for analysis immediately, Maier said. “A long time has passed.”

Germany and Poland want to clarify the fish deaths in the Oder after the omissions of the last few days, but remain intrigued by the cause. According to the Polish government, no toxic substances were discovered in laboratory tests of dead river fish. The fish was examined for mercury and other heavy metals, Polish Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said Sunday in Szczecin at a joint press conference with Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens).

German-Polish task force

With a joint task force, Germany and Poland now want to combat the massive killing of fish in the border river. Germany’s Federal Environment Ministry announced after a meeting of government representatives on Monday that experts from both countries must work together to determine the causes and develop the necessary measures. According to the information, investigations of water and fish samples in the state of Brandenburg are being carried out with the support of federal authorities. More concrete results can be expected by Tuesday, as a spokesman for the Federal Environment Ministry said.