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Red waters. TVN24 reportage about illegal landfills of dangerous substances. Authors on findings

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There are at least 424 illegal hazardous waste landfills in Poland, TVN24 journalists, authors of the report “Red Waters”, have found out. Red waters are wastes that are generated during the production of TNT. Reporters discovered them in many illegal landfills. They reached the only company in the country dealing with such production. They saw with their own eyes the drama of local governments and private people who, due to the activities of criminals, were left with a costly problem. Journalists told about their findings on Monday on TVN24.


There are over 400 illegal landfills in Poland, where criminals left life and health-threatening waste. The mechanism is repetitive: a plot or hall is rented for the pole, waste is transported there, and then – as prosecutor Konrad Rogowski informs – “it simply disappears”. The problem is faced by the owner of the plot or hall, who usually cannot afford to take away the waste and dispose of it. As TVN24 journalists found out, the waste includes so-called red water, which is produced during the production of TNT. This waste was discovered by reporters and investigators in several illegal landfills. TNT in Poland is produced by one factory – Nitro-Chem from Bydgoszcz.

The authors of the report spoke about their findings on TVN24 “Red waters” – Olga Orzechowska, Filip Folczak and Wojciech Bojanowski.

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Red waters, “a very distinctive substance”

– We took up the topic 2.5 years ago. We realized that all over Poland suddenly, around 2017, a lot of illegal landfills began to be created. These are typical chemical tanks. It was not known what was there, it was not known who was responsible for it – described Bojanowski.

He mentioned that “there were two breakthrough moments” in the journalistic investigation. “Once in one of these landfills we found a piece of sheet metal that had fallen off, a canister with Nitro-Chem written on it,” he said. He noted that there is a warning about the threat to health, life and the environment. – We followed this lead to check whether the cans from Nitro-Chem are part of the waste that is scattered all over Poland – he explained.

Wojciech BojanowskiTVN24

He added that the second key element was “a trial in court, because some of these gangsters are already in court, trials are underway.” – There we found out that there is a very characteristic substance. If we find this substance, we will be very close to solving this mystery – he said.

Folczak reported that this substance is called red waters. – It is a waste from the production of TNT, which must contain (toxic – ed.) nitrotoluenes – he explained.

– There are at least 424 hazardous waste landfills throughout Poland. They are often in large cities, often several dozen meters from human homes. Bad waste is collected in tanks called mausers, thousands of liters, in such barrels. And I don’t know what exactly is in it. And the whole burden of what to do about it falls on local governments. So local governments announce tenders. And it is the local governments, the authorities, that is us, who pay for getting rid of this problem – he explained.

“We are talking about billions of zlotys”

Orzechowska said that the authorities can apply for support from the National Fund for Environmental Protection, but huge amounts are at stake.

– In one place, the cost of such an operation was PLN 97 million, so even if there is support from central funds, from the Environmental Protection Fund, it is still a gigantic effort for the commune. Rather, no owner can afford to spend a few, a dozen or even tens of millions on the removal and disposal of such substances – she said.

Bojanowski added: – We are talking about billions of zlotys. Billions of zlotys will cost to dispose of all this crap that is scattered all over Poland.

Journalists in the TVN24 studio showed one of the many samples they submitted for testing. – We were looking for a characteristic substance that comes from a TNT factory. And we managed to find these substances in many landfills all over Poland – noted Bojanowski.

Olga Orzechowska, Filip Folczak and Wojciech BojanowskiTVN24

“It just smells awful in there”

Orzechowska mentioned that journalists talked to both the former head of Nitro-Chem and the current one. – Neither of them denies that such TNT waste could be found – she admitted.

– While conducting our journalistic investigation, we came across a picture that simply terrified us, because one of these 400 illegal landfills is located several dozen meters from the house where a family with children lives – she noted.

Describing the work on the reportage, Folczak mentioned that if someone ends up in such a landfill, “it just stinks terribly there”. – After several dozen minutes, even if you are wearing masks, your head starts to ache, you feel scratching in the throat, scratching in the nose, dizziness – he mentioned.

Filip FolczakTVN24

– And there are people who live in such an environment every day because criminals planted deadly poisonous substances that can expose these people to very serious diseases – he noted. He mentioned a family with three children who leased a plot near the house three years ago. Within two weeks, the criminals, instead of the announced tires, brought hundreds of containers with hazardous waste and disappeared. No one has informed the family what exactly is in the containers.

“That’s the procedure”

Bojanowski explained that “that’s what this procedure is all about”. – We get money from the company for utilizing this (hazardous waste – ed.). We get millions of zlotys for taking it to the incinerator. We do not take it to the incineration plant, we just leave it in the hall, we leave it on the square that the family was supposed to rent, where the tires were to be disposed of – he said.

– They heard that tires will be changed there. Within two weeks, the entire square was covered with hundreds of such containers. The problem is gigantic, because the disposal of one such container currently costs PLN 12,000. Removing these containers from the square where children play every day will cost almost PLN 20 million, he announced.

Folczak reminded that “experts emphasize that prevention is needed, not treatment, that there should be no situation where the waste from the production of explosives lies several dozen meters from the house where a family with three children lives.” “And that waste has been there for three and a half years,” he pointed out

What about the services?

At the end, the journalist quoted what Krzysztof K., the former president of Nitro-Chem, replied to the question about the activities of the relevant services. – Do special services have to take care of everything? the reporter was about to hear.

READ ALSO: Krzysztof K., former president of one of NATO’s largest producers of TNT, detained by the CBA

Main photo source: TVN24

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