Hypotheses of the Moscow Minister about the pollution of the Oder River.  Expert evaluation

Minister of Climate and Environment Anna Moskwa presented four hypotheses that were analyzed as possible causes of the environmental disaster in the Odra River. Experts asked by Konkret24 believe that “there was a chain of events connecting different parts of these hypotheses”. This does not mean that the perpetrators will be quickly identified.

The Minister of Climate and Environment, Anna Mosqua, announced at a press conference on August 16, that The head of the Environmental Protection Inspectorate analyzed samples from the Odra River for the ingress of a toxic substance and none of them revealed the presence of toxic substances. Then the minister inFour analyzed hypotheses were listed as possible causes for the situation we had been observing in the river for several weeks – mostly fish deaths.

We asked experts in hydrology, water treatment technology, and ichthyology to rate what they think about these hypotheses, if there are any, and if so, how likely they are. The responses were fairly consistent – but the conclusion is not optimistic.

Moscow Minister: Four hypotheses about Odra poisoning Video: tvn24

Toxic water, natural, industrial – or both

These are the hypothetical causes of the ecological disaster in the Oder River Presented by Minister Anna Moscowę:

Or not: Release a toxic substance into the water. “Is it the result of the activities of companies operating on the Odra River, or the result of illegal discharges outside the activities of companies,” said the Minister of Moscow.

secondly: natural conditions – i.e. the lowering of the water level, the rise in temperature, the poor oxygen conditions and the increase in concentrations that occurred in the Odra River during the lowering of the water level. “Here, the Environmental Protection Inspectorate examines all conditions confirming high salinity and high temperature,” – said the minister.

The third is indirectly related to the salinity rise: Discharge of large amounts of water after industry in the waterthat can cause this salinity. “There is a lot of chlorine in industrial water, which is an active ingredient and can lead to pollution from bottom sediments,” explained Anna Mosqua.

Fourthly: A combination of the above hypotheses. In a slide that was later published on social media by the Ministry of Climate and Environment, it was clarified that it was specifically related to the combination of the second and third hypotheses, that is, artificial waters and natural conditions.

“There is a part of the truth in every”

All three experts interviewed by Konkret24 agree that the most likely scenario is a combination of assumptions made by the Minister for Climate and Environment. This means that it will be difficult to pinpoint a single comet quickly.

– In my opinion, there was a chain of events connecting different parts of these hypotheses. Anyway, for me the first and third hypotheses are the same. After all, post-industrial water contains toxic substances, says Dr. M. Adam Tansky is from the Department of Aquatic Biology, Ichthyology and Reproductive Biotechnology at the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin. There must have been some trigger that triggered this streak. And this motive was undoubtedly the introduction of some essence into the Oder, as the fishermen had told so. It was a chemical. With a high probability of 80 percent, we can say that it was mycelin, which was confirmed by the services and the chemical smell of the water, which was initially. She adds that it does not come from natural means.

Also a love doctor. Artur Magnuszewski from the Department of Hydrology at the University of Warsaw believes that “this combination of hypotheses appears to be the most likely”. – Data on the flows of the Odra River in the province of West Pomerania show that there is little water in the river, so if someone dumps some pollutants there, the dilution effect is less. There is also a temperature, because shallow water heats up faster. It could be a series of unfavorable events. If there is a natural flow, then it is likely that no one will do it at all, because it will be diluted – he explains, confirming the effect of existing natural conditions (drought, low water level).

Dr.. Łukasz Weber, specialist in water treatment technology from the portal Technology-wody.pl. Each of these hypotheses has a piece of truth. He believes that salt, most likely from post-industrial waters, and the natural conditions that led to the growth of microorganisms, are incorporated into everything we saw. – We have high insolation, high temperature, ideal conditions for the development of phytoplankton and other organisms that conduct photosynthesis. In addition to the toxins that these microorganisms can produce. It doesn’t have to be a weak poison. It is one of the most powerful toxins in the environment. Therefore, in fact, this correlation is the fourth hypothesis about which the minister also spoke – the expert comments.

Ecologists: Rebuilding the Odra ecosystem could take years

Ecologists: Rebuilding the Odra ecosystem could take years Video: Afternoon Facts, TVN24

This salt water does not exist naturally.

Commenting on individual hypotheses, experts emphasize the high level of salinity recorded in the Oder, on the Polish and German sides. It is related to the third hypothesis, which is “the discharge of large amounts of post-industrial water into the water, which causes significant salinity”. The most puzzling thing is the high salinity. Although the Oder has a slightly saline character, because even the waterworks in Wroclaw do not take water from the Oder due to its salinity, this level is now higher than usual – says Dr. Magnuszewski. He adds: – This salinity is mainly affected by the water after the mines that flow into the river.

At the same time, the hydrologist doubts whether it is a discharge point for some highly toxic waters with toxins, as the first hypothesis says. “Therefore, I would be more inclined to combine the second and third hypothesis,” he says.

Likewise, the possible causes of the situation in the Odra River are seen by Dr. Inoue. Łukasz Weber. – Here is another hypothesis of the minister related to the discharge of water after industry and saline water. Because the observation point in Germany, which I rely on, clearly indicates increased conductivity (Increased salinity, increased water oxygenation and alkaline reaction – editor). Research the Chief Inspector of Environmental Protection (CIEP) suits her, too. On the basis of the data that I analyzed, it can be said that the conductivity of this water is comparable with the conductivity of Owenogese in the Uena River, because there is already salty sea water. We call it brackish water. So we had such a discharge of salt or brackish water somewhere, and then it can be diluted in the Odra River. In the Odra basin, such saline water does not exist naturally in indoor conditions, says the expert.

Post-industrial waters can also lead to “contamination from bottom sediments,” Minister Anna Mosqua spoke at the conference. This possibility has not been ruled out by Dr. Adam Tansky. – One hypothesis is that something is now causing pollution from the lower area. Certain amounts of toxins always get into the water, the main thing is that they precipitate and accumulate some of these toxins. Perhaps this is also a hypothesis: that this poison, which entered the Odra River at such a low water level, caused such concentrations that something reacted with it. However, water experts will have to comment – he says.

Dr. inż. Łukasz Weber notes that the minister said the waters were tested for the presence of 300 toxic substances. – However, this does not exhaust the list, there can be a lot of these toxins, even thousands – he says.

What's next for Oder?

What’s next for Oder? Video: Facts about TVN

Determining the essence ‘would be very difficult’

We also asked the experts if the substance that caused this could still be determined, after the time that had passed since the river was polluted. Artur Magnuszewski of the University of Warsaw answers: – It will be very difficult. We have a water monitoring system in Poland, but it’s a little set up for different tasks, and it shows certain operations from a long-term perspective. The cycle of these measurements on large rivers is several times a month. It’s not like we have a daily or hourly reading and know what happens to the river – he explains. – In addition, the measurement points are also determined too rarely: in this kilometer at this time the water quality has deteriorated, because someone threw a substance into the Oder – he adds.

Dr. Adam Tansky from the West Pomeranian University of Technology in Szczecin: – It is important to interview witnesses to the first events who interacted at the source of the poisoning and to take samples of the water and the bottom in these places. There is always some trace material left. These facts must be combined with the production going on in the nearby industrial centres. Currently, the scientific research methodology is very advanced, but competent teams should appear on the site, including the best specialists in the field of toxicology.

At the same time, he notes that the current research on the Odra River near Szczecin shows high levels of oxygen, but that it is caused not by poison, but by the decomposition of tons of dead fish. – Analyzes of our experts from the Polish Hunting Association in Szczecin show that the lack of oxygen is already less than one and a half meters from the surface. The reason is the strong reduction of oxygen by cracking hundreds of tons of fish. Because what we came up with may be a small percentage. Some fish sink to the bottom when they die, and some float again, but then the decomposition process goes so far that the fish sinks again. In addition, in addition to fish, other organisms that cared about the cleanliness of the water, such as filter oysters, also died, Dr. Tański explains.

In his opinion, “if something causes this poisoning, it continues to collapse and causes the death of thousands of living things, for example inside Szczecin, it is no longer this chemical agent, but the process of decomposition of these creatures.” So, when the services say that no chemicals have been detected, yes, let’s be glad we didn’t get chemical poisoning in addition, but the water is so polluted that normal ecosystem functioning is impossible due to the breakdown of proteins. In addition, anaerobic processes can also occur, changing the pH of the water. This, in turn, changes the toxicity of the nitrogen compounds that have ammonia at the end – he explains.

“We’ve been working on it for years”

Two experts – Adam Tansky and Artur Magnuszewski – note that the current state of the Oder is also a consequence of its organization in the past. – We are poisoned today, but for years we have been working on it, for example regulating streams to deprive the rivers, and not only the Oder, of their natural healing power – comments by Dr.

– Each river has the ability to self-clean. They are the highest in natural rivers, that is, unregulated and unhealthy rivers. Otherwise, these processes do not work well – adds Dr. Magnuszewski. – The Oder River, in a section designated after Kędzierzyn-Koźle, is a stream river. In such sections, water flows very slowly. It confirms that regular rivers have a higher speed and thus the possibility of water mixing.

author: Michel Estelle

source: Konkret24, Photo: Marek Lapis/Forum

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