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From "massive amounts of chemical waste" to "natural phenomena".  How the government changed its narrative in the Odra River

From “massive amounts of chemical waste” to “natural phenomena”. How the government changed its narrative in the Odra River

According to the Deputy Prime Minister, Minister of Agriculture and Rural Development, Henrik Kowalczyk, it was “natural phenomena” that caused the death of fish in the Oder. Deputy Prime Minister Kowalczyk is another minister who presents very different reasons for the pollution of the Oder than those in force in the government letter ten or so days ago.

During the morning conversation on Polish Radio 3 on August 23, Deputy Prime Minister Henrik Kowalczyk spoke about the situation in the Odra River and possible government decisions regarding state aid for businessmen who have suffered as a result of the ecological disaster on the Oder River. He also indicated the reasons for it. “It turns out that it was probably more of a natural phenomenon than artificial allowing anything that caused the fish to die. Anyway, this is not the first phenomenon, it was in 2009 in Bug and Narew” – Deputy Prime Minister Kowalczyk said.

He added: “If something is a natural phenomenon, it is difficult to counteract it. At the moment, the Veterinary Institute in Puławy has not found any external cause when it comes to fish mortality, there are no chemical compounds, no heavy metals, etc. . Therefore, the temperature of Very high, low water level, and perhaps in addition, it is an industrial area, and even all that water that is discharged according to the standards may cause an increase in temperature, high salinity, so in my opinion it is an overlap of several phenomena, mainly natural. ”

This is a very different opinion from the opinion that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki gave about the causes of the disaster on the Oder River less than two weeks ago.

08/22/2022 | PiS politicians avoid answering questions about the pollution of the Odra River Video: Facts about TVN

August 11: “Potential Crime”

As he himself later said, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki learned of the poisoning of the Odra River on August 10. “The pollution of the Odra River is very egregious” and “attention to the natural environment and the state of Polish water resources is very important in the era of climate change,” he wrote the next day, in a Facebook post.

Jacek Ozduba, Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment, is accompanying him on that day. “It is likely that we are dealing with the crime of introducing a substance into the water that leads to the death of fish and other organisms. It is being verified at the moment,” Ozdoba told a news conference in Segasitsi, near the Odra River.

August 12: “Huge amounts of chemical waste”

in Podcast on August 12 The prime minister was definitely sharper in his assessments. “Perhaps huge amounts of chemical waste were dumped into the river and this was done with full awareness of the risks and consequences” – said Mateusz Moraviki. He added that “the problem is that the weather conditions and the state of the river do not give any reasons to believe that such a high level of oxygen has natural sources,” and “this can only mean one thing – substances that have entered the river that pollutes it.”

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“We will not let this go. We will not rest until the guilty are punished severely. This is not an ordinary crime. The damage will be with us for years,” the prime minister declared.

August 13: “Human irresponsibility” and the prize of one million zlotys

At a press conference in Gorzow Wilkopolsky on August 13, the Prime Minister declared: “We want to prove the culprits and punish the perpetrators of this environmental crime that we are probably dealing with.” He also added, “In all likelihood there was a discharge of harmful substances into the Oder.”

Maciej Wesek, Deputy Minister of Home Affairs and Administration, who was present at the conference, stated that “it is most likely that human beings are the cause of this phenomenon – either irresponsibility or the illegal removal of some sewage.” The Police Commander-in-Chief allocates a reward of one million zlotys to identify the perpetrator of the pollution of the river.

Prime Minister: We want the perpetrators of environmental crime on the Odra River to be found and punished

Prime Minister: We want the perpetrators of environmental crime on the Odra River to be found and punished Video: Afternoon Facts, TVN24

August 15: “No clear results”

Two days later, after these categorical statements, the tone of the Prime Minister’s speech softened. “Neither German nor Polish laboratories have so far reached clear results that indicate a real and definite cause for what happened,” the Prime Minister said on August 15, during his visit to Aures.

“This is something that makes me – as a person unfamiliar with poisoning, chemicals that react in one way or another with water – a little surprising, but I must humbly bow my head above the professors, private teams and laboratories that study them. We look forward to these results “- said Mateusz Moraviki.

He pointed out that the German side is also unable to say what happened today. The head of the government emphasized that Polish and German laboratories, as well as laboratories in other countries, are conducting highly specialized research.

“At the moment, we don’t know if there has been any infection, and if so what material,” the prime minister said.

August 16: “A mixture of hypotheses”

At a press conference on August 16, Minister Anna Moskwa presented four hypotheses regarding the pollution of the Odra River. The first is the release of a toxic substance into the water “as a result of commercial activities” or as a result of “illegal discharges”. The second hypothesis is the lowering of the water level, the higher the temperature, the poor oxygen conditions and the increased concentrations that occurred in Odra during the lower water condition. The third hypothesis is indirectly related to the high salinity resulting from the discharge of large amounts of post-industrial water into the water.

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The fourth hypothesis, according to the Moscow Minister, is a combination of the above hypotheses, in particular the combination of the second and third, that is, artificial waters and natural conditions. in In the text of Konkret24 We provided the opinions of three experts on these hypotheses.

Moscow Minister: Four hypotheses about Odra poisoning

Moscow Minister: Four hypotheses about Odra poisoning Video: tvn24

August 19: Golden algae and “hints of pollution”

On August 18, Minister Anna Moskwa reported that the Institute of Inland Fisheries had found rare microorganisms in Odra waters, the so-called golden algae, the reproduction of which can lead to the release of deadly toxins for fish and mussels. However, some Polish and German experts point out that “This is not a normal phenomenon but definitely a man-made problem“.

But the government is changing its message.

On August 19, the Prime Minister stated at a press conference held in Smolani in Masuria that “some referred to some chemical pollution of the Odra River and the contamination of the Odra River with mercury.” He emphasized this by saying, “So I wanted to say that the Oder is as polluted by chemicals and as polluted as mercury as Donald Tusk is to be honest, that is, in general.”

With these words, the Prime Minister indicated Remarks by the Minister for the Environment of the State of Brandenburg, Axel Vogelabout the detection of mercury compounds in the Odra River; This information was excerpted by Marshall Voivodeship Lubowski, Ewa Pollack. Civic Platform President Donald Tusk wrote on Twitterł this “śNot only the fish in the Oder are cut down, but the entire country is killed under Kaczyński’s rule. PiS is like mercury.”

Morawiecki also noted that an environmental disaster of a similar magnitude occurred in Germany in 2014, the causes of which are still unknown. He stated that the fish died in the Bug River also in 2009, under the civilian platform ruling. “Somehow, then, unfortunately, no one cared much about it,” he assessed.

where are you from

Where can the “golden algae” come from in the Oder? Experts: The path leads to water mines Video: Afternoon Facts, TVN24

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August 20: “Similar crises”

Since that day, the government message equates the situation on Oder with what happened in Bug and Narew in 2009. “We study and compare similar crises on the rivers as in the Odra. 2009 Bug and Narew 200 tons of dead fish. The reason officially declared at that time It is probably suffocation. Where are the reports, studies and analyzes of this disaster?” – I wrote on August 20 on Twitter Head of the Ministry of Climate and Environment Anna Mosqua (original spelling). Her entry was passed by her deputy in the ministry, Jacek Ozduba.

This letter becomes binding on PiS politicians. At a press conference, the party’s spokesman, Radosław Fogiel, explained on August 20 that Minister Moscow wanted to compare what happened in 2009, what decisions were made and what are the causes of fish deaths. “It turned out that it was difficult to find any reports of activities at that time. Therefore, it can only be a sign that such problems were not even dealt with at the time,” he said.

In turn, Deputy Prime Minister Kowalczyk, in his statement on August 23, went even further – his words show that the fish deaths in the Odra River have the same natural causes as the fish deaths in Bug and Narew in 2009.

08/20/2022 |  The Odra River disaster continues.

08/20/2022 | The Odra River disaster continues. “The government doesn’t want to explain anything at all” Video: Facts about TVN

Only the Regional Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in Warsaw In his letter dated July 10, 2009 He said: “The preliminary observations and analyzes made by the inspectors show conclusively that the lack of oxygen was caused by the decay of organic pollutants in the water flowing from the surrounding meadows and half of them with heavy rains exacerbated by the air temperature. The result – the death of living organisms – vertebrates and the research results show that the pollution of The surface water was not generated by emergency point discharges of sewage from municipal, community or industrial wastewater treatment plants.”

Meanwhile, as a reminder, the Regional Inspectorate for Environmental Protection in Wroclaw In the August 3 announcement And in the information sent to the head of the Environmental Protection Inspectorate, it was stated that in the Odra River “the presence of mesitylene (1,3,5,-trimethylbenzene), which is toxic to aquatic organisms, with a probability of more than 80%, was found.

author: Piotr Jaźwiński

source: Konkret24/PAP; Photo: Marcin Bielecki / PAP