NewsFish deaths: Germany and Poland want to work together

Fish deaths: Germany and Poland want to work together

Created: 08/14/2022, 02:12 am

Umweltkatastrophe an der Oder
Volunteers rescue dead fish from the water of the German-Polish border river Oder. © Patrick Pleul/dpa

Thousands of dead fish float in the Oder. The Polish government has ruled out mercury as a cause. Now the puzzle continues as to what caused the mass extinction. There is a suspicion.

Frankfurt – Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke admitted to initial problems in cooperation with neighboring Poland when investigating the fish kill in the Oder. You have now agreed on better coordination, said the Green politician on Saturday evening during a visit to Frankfurt (Oder) near the border.

Polish government rules out elevated mercury levels as cause of thousands of fish deaths The causes are still unknown. It is speculated that chemical waste was dumped into the river. Poland’s police offered a reward of 210,000 euros for information on the perpetrators.

300 helpers over 80 kilometers

In the Oder border area, hundreds of helpers began collecting dead animals. In the small town of Lebus near Frankfurt, the decomposition caused an unpleasant smell, as a dpa reporter noted. You could also see birds carrying away dead fish. Rescuers wore rubber boots and gloves to protect themselves from direct contact with the water and fish. “I expect several tons of fish that we get out,” said Thomas Rubin for the district administration. Around 80 kilometers in length, around 300 helpers are mainly on the road.

Lemke spoke to emergency services from the fire brigade and technical relief organization. She criticized the lack of information from Poland. “The question of German-Polish cooperation obviously didn’t work at this point,” said the minister. “Otherwise we would have received information earlier, at least from the state of Brandenburg or the neighboring municipalities.”

In a first meeting on Friday, she agreed with the Polish Environment Minister Anna Moskwa that there should be a joint assessment by experts and an exchange of the analysis results. Lemke thanked helpers and anglers who quickly drew attention to the dead fish.

According to the Brandenburg Environment Minister Axel Vogel (Greens), the Oder has “very much increased salt loads”. These are salts dissolved in water. According to the State Ministry, this could be related to the fish kill. “According to current knowledge, however, it will not be a single factor that caused the fish kill in the Oder.”

chemical waste in the river

Poland’s government suspects a huge amount of chemical waste was dumped into the river. After laboratory tests on dead fish, she now ruled out increased mercury levels. “The State Veterinary Institute tested seven species. It has ruled out mercury as a cause of fish kills,” Moskva Environment Minister wrote on Twitter. We are now waiting for the results of tests for other pollutants.

According to government information, Polish authorities had indications by the end of July that there were masses of dead fish floating in the river. Now the government and authorities are being criticized for having hesitated. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki therefore dismissed the heads of the water authority and the environmental authority on Friday evening. He only found out about the massive fish kill on Wednesday. “I was definitely informed too late.” dpa

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