Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, has fired, the CEO of Polish Waters, the state-owned company in charge of water management in Poland, and the head of the Environmental Protection Inspectorate in response to their handling of the River Odra pollution disaster.
Morawiecki made the announcement of the dismissal of Polish Water’s Przemyslaw Daca, and Michal Mistrzak on Friday evening.
Podzielam obawy i oburzenie związane z zatruciem Odry.Tej sytuacji w żaden sposób nie można było przewidzieć,ale reakcja odpowiednich służb mogła nastąpić szybciej. Podjąłem decyzję o natychmiastowej dymisji:szefa Wód Polskich P.Dacy oraz GIOŚ M.Mistrzakahttps://t.co/KuqJVMbSeq
— Mateusz Morawiecki (@MorawieckiM) August 12, 2022
Writing on social media the prime minister said that “the situation related to the poisoning of one of the largest Polish rivers – the Odra, within a dozen or so hours has become the most important topic of public debate”.
“The situation we are dealing with could not have been predicted, but the reaction of the relevant services could certainly have come faster… therefore, I made a decision to immediately dismiss the head of Polish Waters, Przemyslaw Dacy, and the head of the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection, Michal Mistrzak.”
So far at least 11 tonnes of dead fish have been pulled from the river, and there are fears that the river could be affected for years to come by the toxic spill.
“I completely share your concerns and indignation about this matter and I will do everything possible to minimise the effects of the contamination and its impact on the ecosystem as quickly as possible,” Morawiecki continued, adding that those responsible will be found and punished “as severely as possible!”
“Lessons for the future will be drawn and procedures improved. The responsibility of officials is an important issue, but now the protection of people and nature is our most pressing concern,” stressed the prime minister.
He also pointed out that the cause and source of the contamination were still unknown but made it clear that Poland is “dealing with one of the most serious environmental contaminations for a long time”.
“I am treating the matter of the Odra poisoning with the highest priority, and I am in constant contact with the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Interior and Administration, the Ministry of Climate and Environment, provinces and other authorities, and services fighting the effects of the contamination,” wrote the prime minister.
An analysis of contaminated water samples from the River Odra showed no evidence of any heavy metals, a deputy interior minister said.
Otrzymaliśmy oficjalnie od strony niemieckiej aktualne wyniki badań wody. Nie stwierdzono obecności rtęci. Analizy po obu stronach granicy wykazują wysokie zasolenie. W Polsce trwają kompleksowe badania toksykologiczne. Poinformujemy o kolejnych wnioskach
— Anna Moskwa (@moskwa_anna) August 13, 2022
More than ten tonnes of dead fish have been found since late July in Odra, Poland’s second largest river, which also runs through Germany.
The toxic spill has been described as an ecological disaster, and there are fears the river could be affected for years.
Maciej Wasik, deputy minister of internal affairs and administration, told a press conference on Friday that “no heavy metals were found in the 50 samples of water from the River Odra.”
He said crisis management services are already working in the provinces affected by the disaster “to remove the effects of the river contamination.”
Wasik also announced a ban on access to the Odra in the Zachodniopomorskie, Lubuskie and Dolnoslaskie provinces. He specified that water sports, bathing, angling and watering animals in the river are prohibited.
He added that the police along with the local environmental protection inspectorates would check all industrial plants located along the Odra “in order to find out as soon as possible who caused this state of affairs.”
Just what has killed river life and how it got into the river remains a mystery.
Meanwhile, German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke on Friday warned of an ecological disaster.
“I am very shocked and concerned about the fish dying in the Odra,” she told the German portal Redaktionsnetzwerk Deutschland (RND).
“An environmental catastrophe is in the offing,” Lemke said.
“All sides are working flat out to find the reasons for this mass die-off and minimise potential further damage,” she added while vowing to support the authorities of the state of Brandenburg, which has been affected by the Odra contamination.