Polish firefighters rescued 100 tons of dead fish from the Oder River that runs through Germany and Polanddeepening concerns of an environmental disaster for which no cause has yet been identified.
“We’ve never had an operation of this scope on a river before,” Monika Nowakowska-Dryinda from the National Firefighter Press Office said Tuesday.
He confirmed that about 100 tons (220,500 pounds) of dead fish had been recovered since Friday. More than 500 firefighters are rescuing dead fish in Poland using dams, boats, quad bikes and even a drone.
German municipality Bathing and fishing are prohibited After thousands of dead fish were found floating in the 520-mile (840-kilometer) river Oder, which runs from the Czech Republic to the Baltic Sea along the borders of Germany and Poland.
Conservationists fear that the mass die-off could destroy the entire ecosystem of the oder. “We have to see how the bird population grows and what happens to raccoons and otters,” Karina Dorck, a district administrator in Germany’s Uckermark region, told the Tagespiegel newspaper. “It’s a disaster that will stay with us for years.”
The cause of death is uncertain, and Poland It has offered a reward of 1m złoty or €210,000 (£180,000) for anyone who can “help find those responsible for this environmental disaster”. Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said last week that “a large amount of chemical waste was probably dumped into the river in full knowledge of the risks and consequences.”
But Climate and Environment Minister Anna Moskva said on Tuesday that “none of the samples tested so far have shown the presence of toxic substances”. Polish scientists say laboratory tests have only found high salt levels.
He said the government is also looking at possible natural causes and particularly high concentrations of pollutants and salinity resulting from low water levels and high temperatures.
A third hypothesis being tested is that industrial wastewater with a high chlorine content was poured into the river, he said.
Water samples have been sent to laboratories in the Czech Republic, the Netherlands and Britain in hopes of finding the cause.
Mass fish kills were first reported by Polish locals and anglers as early as July 28. In Poland, the government has also come under heavy criticism for failing to act quickly. On Friday, Morawiecki fired the CEO of Polish Water, the state-owned company in charge of water management, and the head of the environmental protection inspectorate in response to the Oder’s handling of pollution.
German officials accused Polish authorities of failing to inform them of the deaths, and of being surprised when waves of lifeless fish surfaced.
The Oder has been known to be a relatively clean river in recent years, and 40 native species of fish are found in the waterway.
But now, dead fish – some reaching 40 centimeters (16 inches) – can be seen across the river.
With Agence France-Presse