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Fish deaths in the Oder: Poland is now announcing new findings - but not because of mercury?

2022-08-14T03:10:46.667Z

Fish deaths in the Oder: Poland is now announcing new findings - but not because of mercury? Created: 08/14/2022 05:02 By: Kai Hartwig Thousands of dead fish are floating in several regions on the banks of the Oder. The population should avoid the water of the river. Brandenburg criticizes Poland. Minister Lemke warns of an environmental disaster: toxins could reach Mecklenburg-Western Pomeran



Fish deaths in the Oder: Poland is now announcing new findings - but not because of mercury?

Created: 08/14/2022 05:02

By: Kai Hartwig

Thousands of dead fish are floating in several regions on the banks of the Oder.

The population should avoid the water of the river.

Brandenburg criticizes Poland.

  • Minister Lemke warns of an environmental disaster: toxins could reach Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania.

  • Police are offering a reward of over 200,000 euros: Poland's head of government wants to punish perpetrators.

  • Several tons of dead fish in the Oder: laboratory results should provide information.

    First analyzes point to mercury as a possible cause.

  • This news ticker is updated regularly.

Update from August 13, 5:59 p.m.:

According to the Polish government, increased mercury levels are not the cause of fish deaths in the Oder.

This was the result of the first toxicological test results from samples of dead fish, wrote Poland's Environment Minister Anna Moskwa on Twitter on Saturday.

“The State Veterinary Institute tested seven species.

It has ruled out mercury as a cause of fish deaths.” We are now waiting for the results of tests for other pollutants.

Update from August 13, 4:40 p.m .:

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke travels to the Oder because of the death of fish.

On Saturday evening at 6 p.m. in Frankfurt, she wants to speak to emergency services, for example from the fire brigade and technical relief organization, as the ministry announced.

There, helpers had collected many dead fish from the shore.

According to the Federal Environment Ministry, Brandenburg's Environment Minister Axel Vogel (Greens) and Frankfurt's Lord Mayor René Wilke (Left) are also expected to attend the meeting.

Fish deaths in the Oder: Polish police are offering a reward of over 200,000 euros

Update from August 13, 11:30 a.m.:

Because of the death of fish in the Oder, Poland has offered a high reward for information that leads to the capture of a perpetrator.

The police have offered a sum of the equivalent of 210,000 euros, said Deputy Interior Minister Maciej Wasik on Saturday in Gorzow Wielkopolski.

"We want to find the culprits and punish the perpetrators of the environmental crime that is probably at stake here," emphasized Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.

Investigations of the Oder: "Strongly increased salt loads" found

Update from August 12, 10:29 p.m .:

According to Brandenburg’s Environment Minister Axel Vogel, the Oder has “very much increased salt loads”.

That was "absolutely atypical," said the Green politician on Friday evening on RBB television.

Vogel's ministry said the measured atypical salt loads could be related to the fish kill.

The term salt loads refers to salts dissolved in the water.

Further investigation data “in particular on heavy metals, mercury and other elements” are still being clarified in the laboratory and should be available in the coming week.

With a view to possibly increased mercury levels, Vogel said that this would be checked further.

It could be a local phenomenon.

When asked whether groundwater or drinking water could be contaminated, Vogel replied: "We don't hope so." In any case, it was "a deadly cargo" that was transported in the river.

But he would not go so far as to see the groundwater resources in danger.

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Poisoned Or: Toxic substances could reach Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania

Update from August 12, 8:55 p.m .:

The highly toxic substances in the Oder that are believed to be responsible for the massive fish kill could still reach the Oder estuary near Szczecin on Friday evening.

Depending on wind and current conditions, the pollutants could reach the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian part of the Oderhaff, the Kleine Haff, during Saturday, according to a statement published on Friday evening by the Mecklenburg-Western Pomeranian Ministry for the Environment.

The ministry advises avoiding fishing and fishing and not taking any water from the Little Lagoon.

The responsible authorities are monitoring the situation closely, and an examination of water and fish samples is being prepared.

Because of the authorities' failure: Poland fires top civil servants

Update from August 12, 7:20 p.m .:

Because they are said to have reacted too slowly to the death of fish in the Oder, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki fired two top officials.

The head of the water authority and the head of the environmental authority would have to vacate their offices with immediate effect, Morawiecki wrote on Friday via the short message service Twitter.

"I share the fears and outrage over the poisoning of the Oder.

This situation could not have been foreseen in any way, but the response from the relevant authorities should have been quicker.”

Minister Lemke warns of impending "environmental catastrophe"

Update from August 12, 6:15 p.m .:

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) warned of an impending environmental disaster in view of the massive fish kill in the Oder.

"The death of fish in the Oder shocks and worries me a lot," the Greens politician told the editorial network Germany on Friday.

"An environmental catastrophe is looming here." So far, the cause was still unclear, explained the minister - and at the same time emphasized that it was important to clarify the events "completely".

"At the moment, many sides are working flat out to clarify the reasons for the mass deaths of fish and thus to keep potential further consequential damage as low as possible," said Lemke.

The Environment Minister promised the Brandenburg authorities, who are responsible for the processing on the German side, of support.

According to their own statements, their ministry also exchanges information with the Polish authorities

Prime Minister of Poland: "Will not rest until the culprits are severely punished"

Update from August 12, 5:24 p.m .:

With a view to the death of fish in the Oder, Poland’s Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki spoke on Facebook with a video message.

"It is likely that a huge amount of chemical waste was dumped into the river, and with full knowledge of the risks and consequences," Morawiecki said.

Poland's Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki announces a "harsh punishment" for the "poisoner".

(Archive image) © Marcin Obara / dpa

All responsible authorities are now on high alert, the water from the river is checked daily, and the veterinary and health authorities are also involved.

"But the most important task now is to find the culprit, the poisoner." This is no ordinary crime, as the damage could remain for years, Poland's head of government continued.

"We will not rest until the guilty are severely punished." 

Or: The environmental administration office provides further details - a lack of oxygen is not the reason

Update from August 12, 4:14 p.m .:

According to the head of the environmental administration in the Märkisch-Oderland district, Gregor Beyer, the potential explanation that the fish die could be due to a lack of oxygen can now be ruled out.

"We have, quite unusually, even more oxygen in the Oder," says Beyer.

He also criticizes the fact that, due to the lack of notification from Poland, German authorities "were only able to react when a fish kill was directly observed." According to the Polish environmental protection agency, the fish kill was probably caused by water pollution by industry.

Beyer said: "We know from various measurements that we were able to collect immediately that a 30-centimeter water wave went through the Oder." However, whether the same wave also contained toxins is currently "not yet 100 percent known."

Federal Environment Ministry criticizes failure of the reporting chain - "We need clarity now"

Update from August 12, 3:40 p.m.:

“In fact, we know that this reporting chain, which is intended for such cases, did not work,” said a spokesman for the Federal Ministry for the Environment in Berlin.

What is meant is the early reporting of fish deaths on the Polish side.

The reporting chain failed by Thursday (August 11).

"Yesterday there was finally the message that should have come from the Polish side.

But by then the pollution on the German side was already known.”

The ministry, headed by Steffi Lemke (Greens), is currently in contact with the Polish government and the Ministry of Infrastructure there, as well as the Polish embassy, ​​"to actually bring clarity as quickly as possible," said the ministry spokesman.

There is also contact with the Brandenburg authorities, who are primarily responsible for processing.

"We now need clarity about the substances that are actually in the water there." The exact cause of the mass extinction is still unclear.

A combination of several factors such as heat, low water supply and toxins is possible, according to Brandenburg Environment Minister Axel Vogel (Greens) on Friday (August 12).

Brandenburg's Environment Minister: "Don't know if they are hazardous waste" - the cause of fish deaths is still unclear

Update from August 12, 2:45 p.m .:

“For the Oder, as an ecologically valuable body of water, this is a blow from which it will probably not recover for several years,” said Brandenburg’s Environment Minister Axel Vogel on Friday (August 12) now in Schwedt on a visit to the region.

According to the Greens politician, the masses of dead fish not only meant an end per se, but "[if] the zooplankton, i.e. the small creatures in the Oder, are also damaged - and this can be assumed - it will take a long time until enough food for the fish can be found in the Oder again.”

The Environment Minister of Brandenburg, Axel Vogel, is answering reporters' questions on the banks of the Oder.

© Patrick Pleul picture alliance/dpa

With regard to the cause of the fish deaths, one is still groping in the dark, since one does not know "which substances were actually introduced into the Oder," says Vogel.

"We have indications from the Polish side that around July 28 near Oppeln, i.e. near Breslau, substances got into the Oder, which triggered a fish kill there, which rolled down the Oder to us." The missing ones Information also raised uncertainty as to the extent to which poisoned or dead fish carcasses could pose a risk to scavengers and other animals.

"At the moment we don't know whether these fish should be declared as hazardous waste," Vogel said.

However, it was "completely clear that disposal has to take place."

Fish deaths in the Oder: test results are expected on Sunday at the earliest

Update from August 12, 11:27 a.m .:

Poland will be able to present the test results for the mass deaths of fish from the Oder on Sunday (August 14) at the earliest.

So far, the State Research Institute in Pulawy has not received any fish, director Krzysztof Niemczuk told the PAP news agency on Friday.

The fish are to be examined for metals, pesticides and other toxic substances.

Niemczuk: "There are so many substances that could have caused the fish kill that we cannot say at this point what the cause might be."

Criticism in Poland is growing: Authorities are said to have known about the poisoning of the Oder since the end of July

In Poland, meanwhile, criticism is growing that the authorities and the government are reacting too slowly to the fish kill.

“The Polish side has had information about the poisoning since July 26, Germany since the day before yesterday.

After almost two days, they announced that the cause could be highly toxic mercury compounds.

Poland's government does not know this to this day, even though the disaster happened two weeks ago," Mayor of Krosno Odrzanskie, Marek Cebula, told Gazeta Wyborcza newspaper.

Brandenburg's Environment Minister Axel Vogel had also criticized the Polish authorities.

He told RBB on Thursday (August 11) that "only third parties and the media know that solvents that may have been partly responsible for the fish kill" were released on a large scale.

"It can be seen that the agreed reporting channels were not followed and that we therefore do not have a lot of information that we should have had," added the Greens politician.

Possible cause: Initial analyzes indicate mercury

Update from August 12, 9:46 a.m .:

The death of fish in the Oder could possibly continue.

With far-reaching consequences for the Lower Oder Valley National Park.

That's what conservationists assume.

The fish kill may have been caused by mercury exposure.

Water samples after the fish die-off in the Oder in Brandenburg have provided evidence of this.

“The first results have been available since yesterday evening.

We don't have it officially yet, but it does in fact point to massive exposure to mercury as a factor," said the head of the environmental administration in the Märkisch-Oderland district, Gregor Beyer, on Friday morning (August 12) on RBB -Info radio.

"We don't know whether that's the only one."

"The effects are just terrible," said Deputy National Park Manager Michael Tautenhahn on Friday morning (August 12) of the German Press Agency.

"This is simply a disaster for the national park."

Dead fish: "The poisoning wave went completely through the Oder"

Animals and plants are affected, as is the development of tourism in the region.

"The wave of poisoning went completely through the Oder," said Tautenhahn.

Dead fish were seen drifting across the entire width of the river: zander, catfish, gudgeon and wolffish.

Sea eagles and other birds could now absorb the poison from the dead fish.

Tautenhahn also expects the national park's image to be damaged: "It's a poisoned disaster area." He fears that many people will now avoid the national park.

The Lower Oder Valley National Park in the very east of Brandenburg is one of the most species-rich habitats in Germany.

Several tons of dead fish in the Oder - waiting for the laboratory results

Update from August 12, 8:20 a.m .:

The Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment is continuing to investigate the mass death of fish in the Oder.

Further laboratory results are expected on Friday (12 August).

On Thursday (August 11), the State Ministry for the Environment reported that initial analyzes indicated that an as yet unknown, toxic substance was flowing through the Oder.

It remained unclear what caused this.

The State Environment Agency has water samples evaluated.

But dead fish are also examined.

The population is also called upon to avoid contact with the water from the Oder.

Dead fish were found in several regions in Brandenburg with Oder sections - from the city of Frankfurt (Oder) to the district of Uckermark.

Water pollution from industry as a possible cause of fish deaths in the Oder

Update from August 11, 9.40 p.m .:

According to the findings of the Polish environmental protection agency, the death of fish in the Oder was probably caused by water pollution by industry.

"Everything indicates that the pollution of the Oder, which has led to the death of numerous fish, could be of industrial origin," said Magda Gosk, deputy head of the authority, on Thursday (August 11).

With drone overflights, attempts are now being made to detect potential sources of pollution and to determine the condition of the river.

In addition, their authorities are investigating which substance is involved.

And "above all, who discharged this substance where into the Oder," added Gosk.

The death of fish in the Oder has been worrying people in Brandenburg on the border with Poland for days.

Thousands of dead fish were discovered in the river, some of them near the city of Frankfurt (Oder) and surrounding towns.

Fish deaths in the Oder: thousands of dead animals – the population should avoid contact with river water

First report from August 11:

Potsdam – A massive fish kill along the Oder is currently a mystery.

The exact reasons for this are still unclear.

Meanwhile, dead fish are being found in more and more places in Brandenburg.

According to the local administrative authority, the Oder section in the Uckermark district was also affected on Thursday (August 11).

It was said that a large number of cadavers had been found.

In the meantime, the State Criminal Police Office in Brandenburg has also started investigations into the fish kill.

Authorities had taken water samples that are currently being evaluated.

Official warnings had already been given to the population to avoid contact with the water from the Oder.

These remained for the time being.

The mood on the border with Poland is depressed.

The residents are extremely worried about the large fish kill in the Oder, which is currently also struggling with low water.

Based on eyewitness reports, the State Office for the Environment in Brandenburg assumes several tons of dead fish.

There are dead fish on the banks of the Oder near Ziegenwerder Island in Frankfurt (Oder).

© Frank Hammerschmidt/dpa

Fish deaths in the Oder: Brandenburg's Minister of the Environment criticizes Poland - "Reporting channels not observed"

Meanwhile, criticism of Poland is growing that the neighboring country did not inform the German authorities in good time.

Brandenburg's Environment Minister Axel Vogel told RBB on Thursday (August 11) that "only third parties and the media knew that solvents were released on a larger scale, which may be partly responsible for the fish kill".

"It can be seen that the agreed reporting channels were not followed and that we therefore do not have a lot of information that we should have had," added the Greens politician.

Vogel assumes that the Brandenburg state laboratory will have the results of sample tests by the weekend.

It is also being examined whether dredging on the Polish side or the discharge of untreated sewage played a role.

Numerous fish carcasses also collect on the banks of the Oder near Brieskow-Finkenheerd.

© Frank Hammerschmidt/dpa

An explanation for the great fish kill has not yet been found in Poland either.

According to a statement from the water authority in Wroclaw at the beginning of August, it is possible that a substance with strong oxidizing properties got into the water.

In addition, the toxic substance mesitylene was detected in two places.

The local public prosecutor's office is also investigating a possible environmental crime.

On the other hand, the Polish environmental protection agency stated on Thursday that current water samples were uncontaminated.

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Poland: Volunteers complain of "skin irritation" after disposing of the fish carcasses from the Oder

The Polish population has made accusations against the authorities.

Voices were raised that no one had been warned not to eat fish from the Oder and not to bathe in the river.

Dead fish were found in Poland at the end of July and water samples were taken.

Poland's television channel

TVN24

showed pictures of volunteers on Thursday (11 August).

They took masses of dead fish out of the river.

One of the helpers complained in the post that he got reddish skin irritation on his hands after touching the water.

On the German side, the disposal of the fish carcasses on the banks of the Oder is still being prepared, as the Märkisch-Oderland district announced.

According to a spokesman, the aim is to attract birds and snakes that eat carrion.

Don't ask for help from the public to collect the carcasses, the disposal should be coordinated.

(kh with dpa)

Source: merkur

All news articles on 2022-08-14

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