Berlin/Warsaw, 15 August 2022 (dpa/MIA) — German authorities kept the pressure up on Poland on Sunday to explain the mass fish die-off in a river on the border between the two countries.
The tons of dead fish that have washed up on the banks of the Oder have sparked complaints from Germany about a perceived lack of action by the Polish authorities, as well as a wider concern about the impact on wildlife downstream.
Germany’s Environment Minister, Steffi Lemke, met her Polish counterpart Anna Moskwa in the Polish city of Szczecin on Sunday, saying afterwards that the two had agreed “good and joint steps” to take the investigation forward.
“It is clear that we are facing a really serious environmental catastrophe,” Lemke said.
The goal of the meeting was to “shed light on this crime,” she said prior to the talks.
Along with other German officials, Lemke had complained that the Polish authorities had not informed Berlin of the fish deaths soon enough. German officials had found out from fishermen about the incident.
The premier of the state of Brandenburg, Dietmar Woidke, said earlier on Sunday that “we must continue to work intensively to clarify what exactly happened. We still don’t know what substances were involved.”
Indeed according to the Polish government on Sunday, laboratory tests of dead fish from the Oder River had so far not revealed any toxic substances that could have caused the deaths.
The fish had been tested for mercury and other heavy metals, Poland’s Environment Minister Anna Moskwa said at a joint press conference with Lemke in Szczecin.
In the coming hours, the fish samples would be tested for another 300 harmful substances, including pesticides. Moskwa said water samples had revealed unusually high levels of oxygen, indicating possibly that foreign substances were put into the water.
According to Woidke, laboratory results would be available from the German side on Monday. He described the Oder as a “source of life for the entire region.”
Scientists have spent days trying to determine the cause of the mass die-off after the Polish water authority said 10 tons of dead fish were recovered from the river.