Appearing tired and stressed, Piotr Wloch looks out dejectedly at his empty tourist boats on the Oder river after an environmental disaster which has killed a large number of fish.
Like many local businesses, Wloch has seen bookings plunge by 90 percent following a up to now unexplained catastrophe on the lush banks of a river between Poland and Germany.
“I’m beginning to realize the scale of what happened,” Wloch told AFP.
“Yesterday, I slept all day long because I was depressed, struggling to move,” he said.
The stench of dead fish fills the air.
Between 200 and 300 kilograms (440-660 pounds) of dead fish have already been removed in Cigacice during the past few daysout of around 300 metric tons altogether from the Oder because the start of August, officials said.
“Many people are afraid. Only some curious people play to get a look, but life has stopped,” said Lukasz Duch, director of an area sports center.
“Prior to the pollution, on an excellent weekend, Cigacice would draw between 5,000 and 10,000 tourists.
“This place was filled with life… Now companies are making nothing in high season,” he said.
‘Afraid of the river’
As the first signs of pollution appeared by the end of July, the region around Cigacice was only affected on August 8.
A large number of dead fish began appearing in the water. In your community all together, residents and firefighters rushed with their river in order to clean it up.
Poland’s government only reacted on August 12, sparking widespread criticism from both local Polish authorities and Germany.
“If we’d had the info fourteen days earlier, we’d have prepared,” said Wojciech Soltys, the mayor of Sulechow, the municipality where Cigacice is situated.
“Now we have been still looking forward to clear and concrete information. What happened? When will we have the ability to get back to the river?”
The Oder begins in the Czech Republic before passing into Poland where it forms an all natural border with Germany and results in the Baltic Sea.
Before end of the 1990s, it had been heavily pollutedan industrial legacy of the communist era.
In 1997, following massive flooding, the river cleaned up naturally and folks began time for its banks.
Wloch was section of this movement.
“We worked for a long period for people ahead and bathe in the river, relax here. In the 1980s and 1990s it looked terrible,” he said.
“Now, folks are afraid of the river again. It’ll be difficult to revive this confidence,” said Wloch, who has seen 12 years of work disappear in an instant.
Toxic algae from pollution
Krzysztof Feodorowicz, owner of a vineyard in the Polish village of Laz close to the river, said it appears like “an industrial waste canal”.
Like numerous others, he previously been expecting an environmental disaster.
“The Oder was a period bomb. We knew perfectly that lots of industrial enterprises in Silesia were pouring their wastewater straight into it,” he said.
Feodorowicz said environmental checks are completed but they aren’t working well.
“Uncontrolled pollution resulted in a chain of events that it’s impossible to grasp,” said Grzegorz Gabrys, head of the zoology department at the University of Zielona Gora in Poland.
“In addition to the fish, we’ve seen the death of other filtering organisms such as for example clams. If each one of these organisms have disappeared from the ecosystem, the results of the catastrophe could play out over an interval of several years,” he said.
Gabrys criticized Poland’s general method of protecting its waterways.
“Lots of people consider rivers section of the technical infrastructure,” he said.
Paraphrasing former US president Bill Clinton’s famous phrase, he added: “It’s nature, stupid!”
Citation: Dead fish and depression on the banks of the Oder (2022, August 27) retrieved 28 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-dead-fish-depression-banks-oder.html
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