Poland pulls 100 tons of dead fish from Oder river after mysterious mass die-off Poland

Polish firefighters have recovered 100 tons of dead fish from the Oder River, which flows through Germany Polandincreasing concern about an environmental disaster for which no cause has yet been identified.

“We have never had an operation of this magnitude on a river,” said Monika Nowakowska-Drynda from the press office of the state fire brigade on Tuesday.

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

German municipalities Bathing and fishing prohibited in the Oder after thousands of dead fish were found in the 520-mile (840 km) long river that flows along the German-Poland border from the Czech Republic to the Baltic Sea.

Conservationists fear that the mass extinction could devastate the entire Oder ecosystem. “We have to see how the bird population develops and what happens to the raccoons and otters,” said Karina Dörk, District Administrator of the Uckermark, the Tagesspiegel. “It is a catastrophe that will accompany us for years to come.”

The cause of the mass extinction remains a mystery, although pollution is a leading theory.
The cause of the mass extinction remains a mystery, although pollution is a leading theory. Photo: Lisi Niesner/Reuters

The cause of death remains uncertain, and Poland has offered a PLN 1 million or €210,000 (£180,000) reward for anyone who “can help find those responsible for this environmental disaster”. “It is likely that enormous amounts of chemical waste were dumped into the river in full knowledge of the risks and consequences,” Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week.

But Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskva said Tuesday that “none of the samples tested so far have shown the presence of toxic substances.” Polish scientists said laboratory tests found only elevated salt levels.

She said the government is also studying possible natural causes, and particularly higher concentrations of pollutants and salinity as a result of lower water levels and high temperatures.

The third hypothesis being tested is that highly chlorinated industrial wastewater was dumped into the river, she said.

Water samples were sent to laboratories in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and the UK in hopes of finding the cause.

The first reports of mass fish die-offs were made by Polish locals and anglers as early as July 28. In Poland, too, the government has been heavily criticized for not acting quickly. On Friday, Morawiecki fired the CEO of the state water company Polish Waters and the head of the environmental protection inspection for their handling of the Oder pollution.

German officials have accused Polish authorities of not informing them of the deaths and were surprised when the wave of lifeless fish came into view.

The Oder has been known to be a relatively clean river in recent years, and 40 native fish species are found in the waterway.

But now dead fish can be seen on the other side of the river – some grow to 40 centimeters.

With Agence France-Presse

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