About a week after the mass death of fish in the Oder became known, attention is increasingly focused on the estuary area in front of the Baltic Sea. Everything is done to ensure that no dead fish arrive in the Szczecin Lagoon, said the Environment Minister of Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania, Till Backhaus (SPD).
As of Tuesday, no dead fish had been sighted in the German part of the lagoon. The Oder flows into the Szczecin Lagoon, through which the border of Germany and Poland runs, and from there into the Baltic Sea.
The tourism industry in the region in eastern Mecklenburg-Western Pomerania is concerned. “It’s still a situation in which a lot is unclear,” said the managing director of the state tourism association, Tobias Woitendorf. As a precaution, the state government in Schwerin advises against bathing in the Szczecin Lagoon. Health risks have not yet been ruled out. Authorities have also advised against angling, fishing and water abstraction.
According to Polish authorities, dead fish have now also been found south of the port city of Szczecin in canals connected to the Oder. This means that the contaminated water masses are moving towards Szczecin, said the head of the regional administration for the West Pomeranian Voivodeship, Zbigniew Bogucki, on Tuesday.
The cause of the environmental disaster is still open. The death of fish in the Oder has been worrying people who live on the river in Poland and Germany for days.
According to the Polish government, no toxic substances that could have caused the fish kill have been discovered in the water samples examined. In addition, no evidence of pesticides was found in the samples of dead fish, said Poland’s Environment Minister Anna Moskwa on Tuesday in Warsaw. The investigations are currently considering three hypotheses.
[Fish deaths in the Oder: Inconsistencies on the Polish side when searching for toxins (T )]
The first hypothesis is the possible entry of a toxic substance into the water, either during the production process in an industrial company located on the Oder or through illegal discharge into the river. The second hypothesis states that the causes were natural: high temperatures, low water levels and increased concentrations of pollutants. The third hypothesis is the discharge of a large amount of chlorinated process water into the Oder.
According to their own statements, the Polish fire brigade alone has so far recovered almost a hundred tons of dead fish from the border river and a smaller river that has no connection to the Oder. In Brandenburg, too, helpers collected the fish carcasses on the Oder. The dead animals are destroyed in special incinerators. For the time being, there was no information about the quantities collected in Germany.
The Brandenburg State Environment Agency has evaluated the first laboratory results. The results transmitted on Monday evening by the Berlin-Brandenburg state laboratory in a first tranche did not show particularly high values for metals such as mercury, according to the Brandenburg Ministry of the Environment on Tuesday. A single cause for the environmental catastrophe cannot be identified.