Thriller toxin suspected as 100 tons of useless fish faraway from Oder River on German-Polish border

Environmental disaster on the Oder River
Lifeless fish, mussels and snails are collected on the water floor at a barrier laid by the hearth division within the Westoder River, alongside the German-Polish border, close to the junction with the principle Oder River, August 16, 2022.

Patrick Pleul/image alliance through Getty

Berlin — A river on the German-Polish border has grow to be a mass grave. Volunteers and authorities have been busy for days eradicating tons of useless fish floating on the floor of the Oder River.

The reason for the large die-off, which has affected a stretch of the river greater than 300 miles lengthy, stays a thriller, however Sascha Maier, a water coverage officer on the BUND environmental group, advised CBS Information on Wednesday that “all the things factors to a artifical disaster.”

Authorities are struggling to search out solutions.

Greater than 500 firefighters are collaborating within the efforts to wash up the mess on the Polish aspect of the river. Maier stated not less than 110 tons of useless fish had been faraway from the river as of Wednesday. A pattern of about 100 of the carcasses had been taken for investigation, whereas the remainder was to be burned at a devoted website in Germany.

Environmental disaster on the Oder River
A ranger with the Brandenburg nature guard, stands with protecting clothes within the German-Polish border river Westoder, close to the junction with the principle Oder River, and removes useless fish, August 16, 2022.

Patrick Pleul/image alliance/Getty

Poland’s authorities says no poisonous substances have been present in water samples from the Oder, and Atmosphere Minister Anna Moskwa stated there was no proof of pesticides in samples from the useless fish.

The federal government has supplied three hypotheses.

The primary is that some still-unknown poisonous substance received into the riverwater by means of both an intentional or unintended discharge from an industrial plant alongside the Oder, or that somebody illegally dumped a toxin into the river.

The second thesis is that the trigger was pure. Poland and Germany, like most of Europe, have sweltered by means of report excessive temperatures, and low water ranges have elevated concentrations of pollution this summer season. The Polish environmental company is investigating all circumstances that would clarify larger salinity and water temperatures noticed within the Oder, Moskwa stated.

Europe faces warmth wave, wildfires and excessive drought


The third chance being investigated is the discharge of a considerable amount of industrial water containing chlorine into the river. Moskwa stated if there was a launch of chlorine into the water, it may have settled and contaminated river backside sediments, which may put wildlife in danger.

The huge fish kill was first famous by locals in Poland on July 28, across the metropolis of Wroclaw. 

“One factor is obvious, the water within the Oder River is polluted, solely with what shouldn’t be clear thus far,” Maier, of the German group BUND advised CBS Information. “Elevated salt and oxygen ranges have been detected within the water.”

The reason for the upper salinity and water temperatures hasn’t been confirmed, or definitively linked to the mass die-off of fish.

A floating barrier is used to collect useless fish on the floor of the Oder River as an excavator removes them from the water, in Krajnik Dolny, northwest Poland, August 15, 2022.


The German Atmosphere Ministry has dominated out mercury contamination because the trigger.

Polish officers suspect the river was contaminated with chemical waste. Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki has supplied a reward of 1 million zloty (about $218,000) to anybody who an establish the trigger.

It is not solely fish affected by the thriller contaminant. Many different animals, together with mussels and small vertebrates in and across the river have additionally suffered, Maier advised CBS Information. There’s additionally a threat that the as-yet-unidentified toxin might be absorbed into the meals chain and have an effect on much more species — even animals destined for human consumption.

Thousands of fish have washed up dead on the Oder river
A useless deer is seen on the banks of the Oder River after 1000’s of useless fish had been discovered floating on the river’s floor, in Oder, Poland, August 16, 2022.

Jo Harper/Anadolu Company/Getty

“We have now seen that different animal species, comparable to eagles and even raccoons, eat the carcasses,” Maier stated, and farmers have lengthy used water from the Oder all alongside the river valley for his or her sheep and cattle.

Authorities strongly advise in opposition to use the Oder’s water for livestock proper now, forcing farmers to search for options.

The Worldwide Fee for the Safety of the Oder River (ICPO), a company that sees delegations from Czechia [also known as the Czech Republic), Poland and Germany cooperate to protect the waterway, has working groups dedicated to raising the alarm in cases such as this. According to their plans, so-called International Main Warning Centers are situated along the river in all three countries and are supposed to pass on reports of pollution or damage in a relay of information aimed at giving early warning to locations downstream.

But that apparently didn’t happen as intended. In Brandenburg, Germany, the fish kill has only been monitored since August 10, and people there were caught unprepared.

“There was no advance warning from Poland, although the fish kill had been known there for two weeks at that point,” a spokesman for the German Environment Ministry said Monday.

Why the reporting chain didn’t function as intended also remains unclear. German’s Federal Environment Ministry said the responsible working group would hold a special meeting on August 18 to look into the matter.

Thousands of fish have washed up dead on the Oder river
A dead fish, among thousands found, is seen on the Oder River in Oder, Poland, August 16, 2022. 

Jo Harper/Anadolu Agency/Getty

Whatever the contamination is, it hit an ecosystem that was already under great stress this summer, Maier told CBS News, thanks to the weeks of extreme heat and hardly any rainfall. Those conditions have very likely exacerbated the problem, at least, because the lower water volume means a higher concentration of any toxic substances present.

“Because of the low water, we have a warm Oder River,” he said. That alone can cause significant physical stress for many fish species, and “if pollution is then added, they are less resistant.”

Maier said an ongoing infrastructure project, funded by the World Bank, to expand the bed of the Oder on the Polish side is also a source of stress for the river’s wildlife, and a possible cause of its contamination.

After a meeting of Polish and German government representatives, the German Environment Ministry said Monday that experts from both countries would work closely together to find the cause of the problem.

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