Poland is offering a reward of more than 200,000 euros for the clarification of the massive fish kill in the Oder. The government suspects that a huge amount of chemical waste was dumped into the river.
The police have offered a sum of the equivalent of 210,000 euros for information leading to the arrest of a perpetrator, 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.
Poland's government and authorities are under pressure because they were too hesitant to warn of the fish kill. Politicians and conservationists described the consequences of the Oder pollution as an environmental catastrophe. The cause has not yet been clarified. Laboratory analyzes of samples of the water and dead fish are ongoing.
Hundreds of helpers collect dead fish
Meanwhile, in the Oder border area in Brandenburg, hundreds of helpers began collecting dead animals on Saturday. In the small town of Lebus, not far from Frankfurt (Oder), an unpleasant smell had spread on the bank due to the decomposition of the fish, a dpa reporter described. Birds can also be seen carrying away dead fish. Task forces in Lebus wore rubber boots and gloves, among other things. You must protect yourself from contact with the water and the fish.
"I expect several tons of fish that we will get out," said Thomas Rubin for the Märkisch-Oderland district administration. There, around 300 helpers are on the move, especially on the shore, over a distance of around 80 kilometers. The mayor of the city of Schwedt an der Oder, Annekathrin Hoppe (SPD), said on rbb info radio that the helpers were equipped with protective suits when collecting. It can be assumed that there are substances that are hazardous to human health.
According to the Brandenburg Minister of the Environment, 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 salt loads could be related to the fish kill. "According to current knowledge, however, it will not be a single factor that caused the fish kill in the Oder," it said in a statement. The term salt loads refers to salts dissolved in the water.
Findings of mercury will continue to be checked
However, the results are "not yet fully meaningful and not conclusive," it said. Further investigation data should be available in the coming week. With regard to mercury finds, Vogel said that this would be checked further.
Dealing with the fish kill triggered personnel consequences in Poland. Prime Minister Morawiecki dismissed the head of the water authority and the head of the environmental authority because they are said to have reacted too slowly to the fish kill in the Oder. In Germany, too, the federal and state governments openly criticized Poland for not providing information in good time and for not complying with the usual reporting chain for such events.
He does not rule out further personnel consequences, said Poland's head of government. He admitted he only found out about the massive fish kill on August 10. "I was definitely informed too late." According to government information, Polish authorities had already received the first indications at the end of July that masses of dead fish were floating in the river.