A large number of fish have washed up dead on the Oder river running right through Germany and Poland, sparking warnings of an environmental disaster as residents are urged to remain from the water.
The fish floating by the German banks close to the eastern town of Schwedt are thought to have washed upstream from Poland where first reports of mass fish deaths were created by locals and anglers as soon as on July 28.
German officials accused Polish authorities of failing woefully to inform them concerning the deaths, and were taken by surprise once the wave of lifeless fish came floating into view.
In Poland, the federal government in addition has come under heavy criticism for failing woefully to take swift action.
Almost fourteen days following the first dead fish appeared floating by Polish villages, Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said on Friday that “everyone had initially thought that it had been an area problem”.
But he admitted that the “scale of the disaster is quite large, sufficiently large to state that the Oder will require years to recuperate its natural state.”
“Probably enormous levels of chemical waste was dumped in to the river completely knowledge of the chance and consequences,” added the Polish leader, as German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke urged a thorough probe into what she called a brewing “environmental disaster”.
Standing by the riverbank, Michael Tautenhahn, deputy chief of Germany’s Lower Oder Valley National Park, looked in dismay at the river on the German-Polish border.
“We have been sitting on the German sidewe have dead fish everywhere,” he told AFP.
“I’m deeply shocked… I’ve the sensation that I’m seeing decades of work lying in ruins here. I see our livelihood, the waterthat’s our life,” he said, noting that it is not only fish which have died, but additionally mussels and likely countless other water creatures.
“It’s just the end of the iceberg.”
The Oder has during the last years been referred to as a comparatively clean river, and 40 domestic species of fish make their house in the waterway.
However now, lifeless fishsome no more than several centimetres, others reaching 30-40 cmcan be observed over the river. Occasionally, those still struggling to pull through is seen flipping up in the water, seemingly gasping for air.
Officials think that the fish will probably have already been poisoned.
“This fish death is atypical,” said Axel Vogel, environment minister for Brandenburg state, estimating that “undoubtedly tonnes” of fish have died.
Fish death is frequently due to the distortion of oxygen levels when water levels are too low, he explained.
“But we’ve completely different test outcomes, namely that people experienced increased oxygen level in the river for a number of days, and that indicates a foreign substance has been introduced which has resulted in this,” he said.
Tests are ongoing in Germany to determine the substance that could have resulted in the deaths.
Early reports had suggested indications of extremely high degrees of mercury. But another batch of preliminary results released on Friday evening showed unusually high degrees of salt.
Authorities said these were unconclusive, and that further test outcomes on heavy metals and mercury were pending.
In Poland, prosecutors also have begun investigating after authorities came under fire over what critics said was a sluggish reaction to a tragedy.
Tautenhahn said the disaster may likely carry consequences for a long time ahead.
“If it’s quicksilver, then it will stay here for quite a long time,” he said, noting that mercury will not disintegrate but would then stay in the sediments.
Citation: ‘Dead fish everywhere’ in German-Polish river after feared chemical waste dump (2022, August 13) retrieved 13 August 2022 from https://phys.org/news/2022-08-dead-fish-german-polish-river-chemical.html
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