Polish regional authorities request declaration of “state of natural disaster” following poisoning of the Oder

The authorities of the Polish province of West Pomerania have called on the country’s government to declare a state of natural disaster for 30 days, covering the area affected by the poisoning of the Oder. A similar call was made by the head of Lubuskie province last week.

This would compensate affected companies and fishermen who claim their losses amount to thousands of zlotys a day. If this is not possible, the regional executive requests the implementation of a so-called “special” law, which will provide tools to counter the consequences of the disaster.

The poisoning of the Oder: what we know so far

In the meantime, the government plans to set up a permanent surface water monitoring system to prevent similar disasters in the future, the climate minister announced.

The Polish Angling Association has already announced its intention to seek compensation for losses suffered as a result of the poisoning of the Oder.

“We will apply to cover the cost of restoring fish stocks in the river,” the association said in a statement. “The fishermen are very patient, we will certainly ‘rescue’ the perpetrators and the co-responsible for this environmental disaster”.

The amount of potential compensation the association will fight for has yet to be announced. This will depend on the extent of the loss and the level of pollution in the environment.

According to the association, the disaster was caused by “a lack of competence, commitment and appropriate action on the part of the state, in particular Polish waters” (the public body responsible for managing the ‘water).

It is still unclear what caused the poisoning. The first dead fish in the Oder were observed near Oława at the end of July. It was only after two weeks that a ban on entering the river, due to the potentially dangerous health effects of contact with the water, was introduced in the provinces of West Pomerania, Lubuskie and Lower Silesia. The river is always cleaned of dead fish.

“It seems inconceivable to leave all these actors around the river without the means of subsistence of which they were deprived overnight,” said the regional government spokeswoman, quoted by RMF FM radio.

West Pomeranian Governor Olgierd Geblewicz also banned amateur fishing on the Oder and Port Lake in the western Polish city of Szczecin from Aug. 13 to Sept. 30.

For fishermen, the angling ban means big losses. The president of the Association of Fish Producers in Szczecin, Paweł Kuźmiński, told TOK FM that for each fisherman this translates into losses of thousands of zlotys every day.

“We are at the peak of the fishing season, which we have been preparing for for many months,” he added.

On Wednesday, parliamentary committees discussed the measures taken by the government in the context of the environmental disaster on the Oder.

At the committee’s meeting, Deputy Infrastructure Minister Marek Gróbarczyk said a “particular poisoning” must have occurred because it involved the high pH and oxygenation of the water.

“If these were not natural conditions, it was simply the actions resulting from the title of the sewage treatment plant, which simply discharged dangerous substances, untreated … and that caused the poisoning,” said the deputy minister, quoted by the state news agency. PAP, adding that massive fish kills were also recorded earlier this year.

A different stance was taken by Climate Minister Anna Moskwa, who told a press conference on Wednesday that no pesticides had been found in dead fish from the Oder and that radioactive isotopes were lower. to normal.

“We’re moving further and further away from the toxic substance hypothesis, we’re getting closer to the natural cause hypothesis. But we are not ruling out a toxic substance, we are looking for it in other ways,” she said.

However, the minister announced that the government wanted to set up a permanent surface water monitoring system with an early response system to potential crises, failures and disasters. “We will be pioneers in the EU,” she said, adding that work on the system should start immediately.

Main photo credit: Cezary Aszkielowicz / Agencja Wyborcza.pl