The environmental organization Greenpeace believes that two coal and mining companies are responsible for the mass deaths of fish in the Oder last summer. A German-Polish team from Greenpeace took and analyzed 57 water samples from three tributaries to the Oder and six tributaries to the Vistula, the organization announced today.

After the investigation, she assumes that wastewater from the mining industry was the trigger for the fish kill in the German-Polish border river. In three mines of two Polish companies, the pollution from saline discharges could be proven, Greenpeace said.

Experts assume that salt discharges were a major reason for the Oder fish die-off, combined with low water, high temperatures and a toxic species of algae.

The company Jastrzebska Spolka Weglowa S.A. (JSW) informed the dpa that it wanted to deal with the Greenpeace report. In addition, coal producer JSW did not comment on the matter today. The second company has not yet responded to a request, nor has the Polish Ministry of the Environment.

The Federal Environment Ministry announced in the evening that the German and Polish authorities were still in contact to gain a better understanding of the causes of the fish kill. “We also assume that further investigations will be carried out on the Polish side to clarify the causes of the massive fish kill.” The Polish authorities would have to assess the extent to which the Greenpeace report provided new evidence for this.

Greenpeace calls for adequate monitoring

Greenpeace further said: “Only through adequate monitoring by Polish authorities can further ecological catastrophes in the Polish-German river be prevented at any time.” At the same time, it was said that the Vistula was more polluted by salt discharges than the Oder.

Federal Environment Minister Steffi Lemke (Greens) spoke of an environmental disaster on the Oder last summer. It is estimated that at least 360 tons of fish died on the Polish and German sides in August. Even months after the fish died, increased salt levels were measured in the river. Water experts are urging the salt discharges to be limited quickly and warned that otherwise there could be another fish kill in the summer. With federal funding, German scientists are now investigating the consequences of the massive fish kill and want to develop early warning systems.