What killed tons of fish in a European river? The mystery deepens | News, Sports, Jobs
WARSAW, Poland (AP) — Laboratory tests following a mass fish kill in the Oder River have detected high levels of salinity but no mercury poisoning of its waters, Poland’s Minister of Health said today. the environment as the mystery persisted as to what killed tons of fish in central Europe.
Anna Moskwa, minister for climate and the environment, said analyzes of river samples taken in Poland and Germany revealed high salt levels. Extensive toxicological studies are still ongoing in Poland, she said.
She said the Polish veterinary authority had tested seven species of dead fish and ruled out mercury as the cause of the mortality, but was still awaiting results from other substances. She said the results of the tests carried out in Germany also did not show a strong presence of mercury.
The Oder River stretches from the Czech Republic to the Polish-German border before flowing into the Baltic Sea. Some German media had suggested that the river might have been poisoned with mercury.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday that “huge amounts of chemical waste” were likely intentionally dumped into his country’s second-longest river, causing environmental damage so severe it would take years for the waterway to recover.
Today, Morawiecki pledged to do everything possible to limit environmental devastation. Poland’s interior minister said a $220,000 reward would be paid to anyone who helps find those responsible for polluting the river.
Authorities in the northeastern German state of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania have warned residents not to fish or use water from the Szczecin Lagoon, as contaminated water from the river may reach the estuary area tonight.
“The scale of the massive fish kills is shocking. This is a blow to the Oder as a waterway of great ecological value, from which it is unlikely to recover for a long time,” said Alex Vogel, environment minister of the German state of Brandenburg, along which the river flows.
The head of Polish waters, Poland’s national water management authority, said on Thursday that 10 tonnes of dead fish had been removed from the river. Hundreds of volunteers were working to help scoop up dead fish along the German side.
German laboratories said they had detected “atypical levels of”salts” which may be related to mortality but would not fully explain them on their own.
Morawiecki acknowledged that some Polish officials were “lazy” reacting after a large number of dead fish were seen floating and washing up on the shore, and said two of them had been returned.
“For me, however, the most important thing is to face this ecological disaster as soon as possible, because nature is our common heritage”, said Morawiecki.
His comments were echoed by the mayor of Schwedt, Annekathrin Hoppe, whose German town is located next to the Lower Oder Valley National Park. She called the contamination of the river “an environmental catastrophe of unprecedented scale” for the region.
Copyright 2022 The Associated Press.