Poland’s Second largest river Hit by Ecological Disaster

The Lack of Governmental Response Exacerbated an Ecological Nightmare

11 October 2022

Michał Zabłocki

Climate and Democracy Editor

In August, the Oder river was hit by an ecological disaster, with contamination starting in southwest Poland and stretching over 300 kilometres. Tens of thousands of dead fish flowed downstream Poland’s second largest river in what looks to be the largest ecological emergency in the country for years. Several nature preserves and diverse ecological habitats, both on the Polish and German sides, are located along the flux and are now facing real risk.

Fish and beavers were dying. Waterfowl, livestock and – above all ––vacationers were in danger. The inhabitants of the Oder river villages, fishermen and environmentalists were the initial and the only ones trying to save the river from an ecological calamity.

The first news about the contamination appeared on 26 July as anglers on the border of the Opole and Lower Silesian regions spotted dead fish in the water. They immediately informed the authorities and started to clean up the river. They pulled out over 5 metric tonnes of dead fish, but more of the fishkill appeared downstream and was flushed along the banks.

In the following days, Polish Green MP Małgorzata Tracz as well as Civic Platform Senator Wadim Tyszkiewicz (both opposition members and from the districts by the river) called on the national government for immediate intervention.

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Michał Zabłocki

Climate and Democracy Editor

Michal is Climate and Democracy Editor and former Marcin Król Fellow at Visegrad Insight. He’s an active Freelance journalist, and climate activist as well as a communications and policy consultant, too. In the past, he was a foreign correspondent for the Polish Press Agency in Moscow, Prague and Bratislava, Newsroom Editor and a long-standing Staff Writer at PAP Foreign Desk, PAP English language newswire Market Insider and PAP Domestic Desk, where he covered climate and environment. He mainly focuses on politics, economy, climate and energy in Poland and Central Eastern Europe. He's also the author of a non-fiction book "To nie jest raj. Szkice o współczesnych Czechach" ("It's not paradise. Essays on contemporary Czechia"), published in 2019 in Poland and 2020 in Czech Republic.

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