Pollution of a river on the Polish-German border: Warsaw offers a bounty to find the author

The Polish police on Saturday offered a reward of 210,000 euros, Saturday August 13, to find the author of serious pollution of the Oder river which marks the Polish-German border. Tons of dead fish have been fished out of the waterway for several days, while local people are told to stay away from its waters. “The Commander-in-Chief of the Police today set a reward of one million zlotys to help uncover the perpetrators of this environmental disaster”Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wasik told reporters.

The Polish government has found itself under fire in recent days, both in Poland and in Germany, for not having reacted sooner to this disaster qualified Friday as “ecological disaster” by German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke.

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki admitted on Saturday that he had been informed of the situation “August 9 or 10”while the first pollution signals were recorded at the end of July. “It is obvious that I learned of this too late. The services concerned should have informed me earlier”he told the press during a press briefing in Gorzow Wielkopolski (west), capital of the region in which the Oder flows.

Environmental officials sacked

The head of government dismissed Przemyslaw Daca, head of Polish Waters – the state body responsible for water management – ​​on Friday, as well as Michal Mistrzak, Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection, whom he blamed “too slow action”. Mateusz Morawiecki then also recognized that the scale of pollution was “very large, large enough to say that the Oder will need whole years to return to its natural state”.

Volunteers on the banks of the Oder, August 13, 2022 in Lebus (Germany).  (PATRICK PLEUL / DPA)

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This river, which first flows through Poland and then forms a border with Germany since 1945, has been considered relatively clean for many years, home to around 40 species of fish. The Prime Minister has not ruled out further resignations, while the opposition, local authorities and environmental organizations are calling for the resignation of politicians, including a deputy minister who was still encouraging people to go swimming in the water on Thursday. ‘oder. The prosecution has already been seized of the case.

Authorities believe the fish were likely poisoned. Their death is “atypical”explains Axel Vogel, Minister of the Environment of the German Land of Brandenburg, judging that “tons” of fish have probably perished already. Fish kills are often caused by the distortion of oxygen levels when the water level is too low, he explains. “But we have noticed an increase in the oxygen level for several days, which indicates that a foreign substance has been introduced and caused all this.”

Tests are underway in Germany to establish the nature of this substance. Authorities have already reported signs of extremely high levels of mercury. Further preliminary tests released on Friday evening revealed an unusually high salinity level. Other results are expected on the possible presence of heavy metals or mercury.

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