In Kędzierzyn-Koźle, there was a fire at an illegal waste dump. At least 500 tons of flammable, poisonous substances caught fire. The warehouse is under the prosecutor’s microscope as part of an ongoing investigation. Eleven members of an organized criminal group have already been charged in this case, and its alleged leader is Jacek B. – the same man who is responsible for, among other things, the landfill for waste from TNT production near Bełchatów.
Huge explosions and clouds of black toxic smoke visible from many kilometers – this is how the illegal hazardous waste dump in Kędzierzyn-Koźle burned.
– Firefighters, properly equipped with respiratory protection devices, carry out operations at the hall itself. They do not enter the hall itself, but through openings that were natural openings, where there were windows and doors, and that is where the fire-fighting activities take place – said junior captain Łukasz Nowak, press spokesman for the Provincial Headquarters of the State Fire Service in Opole.
In this crisis situation, we can say that we are lucky.”
At least 500 tons of flammable, poisonous substances burst into flames, which is why a special car of the Environmental Protection Inspection, equipped with equipment for measuring air pollution, also appeared on site. – In this crisis situation, we can say that we are lucky because the smoke now blows less into the forest and the Odra River. It is no longer going towards Kędzierzyn-Koźle, said the mayor of Kędzierzyn-Koźle, Sabina Nowosielska.
Local residents were saved from evacuation by strong gusts of wind that passed over almost all of Poland on Thursday. Although it was no secret that hazardous waste was stored there illegally. The landfill at Chełmońskiego Street in Kędzierzyn-Koźle is one of over 30 that the garbage mafia tried to hide in the surrounding voivodeships.
– These are waste containing highly flammable substances, the vapors of which can form explosive mixtures with air, posing a fire and explosion hazard due to their physicochemical properties – informs Katarzyna Żołna from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Katowice.
The prosecutor’s office confirms that such dangerous substances had been stored there for three years. Eleven members of the organized criminal group have already been charged in this case, and its alleged leader turned himself in to the prosecutor’s office in September, after two years of hiding abroad. This is Jacek B. – the same man who is to be responsible, among others, for the landfill for waste from TNT production near Bełchatów, presented in Wojciech Bojanowski’s reportage “Wody Czerwone”.
– He heard as many as 32 charges. These are primarily allegations of acting in an organized criminal group and, above all, managing such a group – said Agnieszka Wichary from the Regional Prosecutor’s Office in Katowice on September 12.
Those in power blame PO politicians
“We are investing a lot of money to clean up after the Civic Platform”, “Poland will be poisoned and terrorized by garbage mafias” – this is how the outgoing government reacted and still reacts to the problem of illegal import of hazardous waste, although the findings of the prosecutor’s office show that most of such landfills have been built in just the last few years.
– They were wrapped in purple foil, with the words “natural fertilizers” written on them, and that’s how they had to enter Poland. No one controlled it – says the mayor of Kędzierzyn-Koźle.
Criminals collect hazardous post-production waste, declaring its disposal, and earning hundreds of millions, or perhaps even billions, of zlotys. Then they transport it across the border and abandon it in rented warehouses, and covering up this practice is not even particularly complicated, since – as the journalists of “Fakty” TVN found out – a river of waste still flows to Poland, and with the consent of officials and authorities. – We only import what the economy needs – assures Jacek Ozdoba, outgoing Deputy Minister of Climate and Environment.
– Our processing capacity is filled with waste that is not our own, while we have a problem in our own backyard – points out Hanna Marliere, president of the Pro Terra Foundation.
The cost of legal disposal of just one waste container is approximately PLN 12,000. There were almost half a thousand of them in Kędzierzyn-Koźle, which means that the safe liquidation of this landfill may cost almost PLN 5 million, and there are at least 400 such illegal landfills throughout Poland.
Main photo source: TVN24