Germany and Poland search for cause of mass fish die-off in river Oder

Germany and Poland search for cause of mass fish die-off in river Oder
# 12 August 2022 21:05 (UTC +04:00)

Polish and German authorities are working "flat-out" to establish the cause behind a mass fish die-off in the river Oder, German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said on Friday, warning of an environmental catastrophe, APA reports citing Reuters.

Tonnes of dead fish have been found since late July in the river Oder, which runs through Germany and Poland. Both sides have said they believe a toxic substance is to blame but have yet to identify it.

"An environmental catastrophe is in the offing," Lemke told the RND newspaper group. "All sides are working flat out to find the reasons for this mass die-out and minimise potential further damage."

Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said the waterway would take years to return to normal.

"The scale of this pollution is very big. So big that the Oder may take years to return to a fairly normal state," Morawiecki said in a regular podcast on Friday.

"It is likely that enormous amounts of chemical waste have been dumped into the river," he said, adding those responsible would be held accountable.

Late on Friday Morawiecki fired the head of Poland's national water management authority, Przemyslaw Daca, and the head of the general environmental inspectorate Michal Mistrzak, saying that their institutions should have reacted earlier.

A spokesperson for the German environment minister told a news conference on Friday that they were following the situation closely, and that it was not yet clear what had got into the water.

"We have an incomplete picture," the spokesperson said. "We need clarity on what materials are in the water."