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Sunday, June 23, 2024

Did the Ministry of the Environment do everything to prevent the disaster on the Odra River? Sewage is still discharged into the river

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Measles is at risk again. More and more dead fish are caught, and everything looks more and more like last year, because sewage and salty water still end up in the river. The Minister of the Environment, Anna Moscow, assures that her ministry has done everything it can, and has been dealing with the Oder issue for a long time. However, according to experts, little has been done to prevent another catastrophe.

Although dead fish appear in the Oder basin again, and the risk of a repeat of last year’s catastrophe is growing, in an interview with Reuters, Minister of Climate and Environment Anna Moscow admitted that she had nothing to reproach herself for. – On the part of my ministry and the services working for me, I am very convinced that we have done everything we could. We have dealt with this topic a lot, Moscow assured.

Meanwhile, to this day, it has not been established who is responsible for last year’s disaster and the amount of sewage and brine flowing directly into the river has not been limited. Within ten months, the Ministry of Climate and Environment has prepared an act on the revitalization of the Oder River, which scientists, environmentalists and the opposition are not convinced about.

– This special act is exactly the opposite direction – believes Dr. Dominik Marchowski from the ornithological research laboratory and the Museum of the Institute of Zoology of the Polish Academy of Sciences. – What the government is doing, i.e. insisting on partitioning rivers, making water barrages, channeling this river, is counterproductive – assesses Radosław Gawlik from the Ecological Association EKO-UNIA.

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– More concrete, the Odra will endure: this is how this revitalization of the Oder can be summarized – says Małgorzata Tracz, an MP from the Civic Coalition.

Golden algae in the Gliwice Canal. Experts warn that the catastrophe on the Oder River may happen againRenata Kijowska/Fakty TVN

“We have influence on the discharge of brines”

Although the ministry rightly plans to build additional sewage treatment plants or a pollution monitoring system, the words “reconstruction”, “construction works”, “weirs”, “thresholds” and “damage ups” appear 51 times in the act. – That is, hydrotechnical projects, regulation, creation of new hydrotechnical facilities, cascading – also generally something that goes in the opposite direction to the recommendations of scientists – explains Marchowski.

The intention of the rulers may be revealed by the last statement of the Lower Silesian Voivode, Jarosław Obremski, when he informed where this year there was a risk of golden algae. – These parameters, which are already dangerous in the oxbow lake, are quite safe in the mainstream – especially in Lower Silesia, where the Oder flows relatively quickly – Obremski said.

Scientists admit that in a fast-flowing concreted, even shallow river, the risk of golden algae will be lower. The problem is that then we are no longer dealing with a river, but at most with a technical canal. – This is your idea for the Oder River: to make it one big sewer, which barges with garbage and icebreakers will flow from time to time – accused the rulers from the parliamentary rostrum Anita Kucharska-Dziedzic, a member of the Left.

Despite the drought, falling water levels and, at the same time, rising temperatures, the Ministry of Climate and Environment has not developed a mechanism that would limit the pouring of thousands of cubic meters of pollutants into the river in a situation of increasing risk.

– We have no influence on climate change, weather and temperature, and we have influence on the discharge of brines and we should immediately remove it. Well, we don’t see any decisive moves. It is said that this will be done over a number of years, and the Odra River needs rescue now – points out Krzysztof Smolnicki from the Coalition “Czas na Odrą”.

Although it is the saline water from mines and industrial plants, but also phosphorus and nitrogen, which are conducive to the proliferation of golden algae, the toxins from which last year caused the death of 250 tons of fish.

– If we cut off consistently, reduce salinity, then algae will not stand a chance. Maybe they will even retreat back to the Baltic Sea, where they should be, and not in the fresh waters of the Oder River – explains Radosław Gawlik from the Ecological Association EKO-UNIA.

Operation of water oxygenation on the Gliwice CanalPAP/Krzysztof Świderski

The case of water permits

Not only that – after the catastrophe on the Oder River – 138 new permits for the discharge of waste were issued. Most of them are treated municipal sewage and rainwater, although there is also a permit for Polska Grupa Górnicza, which may discharge up to 6,000 cubic meters of brine into the Oder daily.

– If the entity meets all the criteria set out in the Water Law Act, we cannot refuse to issue such a water law permit – informs Anna Wiśniewska from the State Water Holding of Polish Waters.

Scientists warn that this is a ready-made scenario for the rest of the life to disappear from the Oder River, which managed to save itself during the previous catastrophe. – One of the things that is done is putting nets on oxbow lakes. Only few people say that it does not protect us from algae. This protects the fish so that the fish do not enter the places where the algae are present, Gawlik notes.

The problem is that in the other direction – for microscopic algae – the net in the river is no obstacle.

Main photo source: Facts after noon TVN24

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