Fish kills in the Oder: What is the cause?

Fish kills in the Oder: What is the cause?

Dhe wave came when it was dark. In Frankfurt Oder the water level of the river suddenly rose. The water covered groynes exposed by the drought on the Polish side, it filled the shallow, sandy bays of the island of Ziegenwerder in front of the Frankfurt city area. The level rose until the following night; at three o’clock in the morning on August 7, a Sunday, he reached 120 centimeters, an unusually large plus of about 30 centimeters in a short time. Local residents were surprised that it hadn’t rained at all. The water stayed for 24 hours, then it started to disappear.

The Monday after, the anglers noticed the smell. The Oder doesn’t really stink. It was also heard that the river looked browner. On Tuesday there were isolated reports of dead fish upstream from the township. That was August 9th, the anglers informed the city. “Looking back, it was a kind of background noise,” says Frankfurt Mayor René Wilke (The left). “The situation was unclear, diffuse.” The following day, the carcasses appeared in large numbers on the banks. The bays on the island of Ziegenwerder were full of fish and smelled of decay.

It’s easy to make connections where you want to see them. Was the water that suddenly appeared an attempt by a Polish company to dilute poison previously added in the Oder to make it more difficult for laboratories looking for the pollutant? Did this poison kill the fish, or was it a dumb coincidence, a combination of several factors? Is there an interest in introducing poison into the water in order to deliberately damage the ecosystem, because that would make it easier to push ahead with the expansion of the Oder on the Polish side? It didn’t take long for such rumors to start making the rounds around town.

Residents, environmentalists and helpers are suspicious

With around 60,000 inhabitants, Frankfurt (Oder) is large enough that there is a MC Donalds There are crushed chicken nuggets lying on the street in front. The town is small enough that people shake hands on the street as they pass by. When it comes to the Oder disaster, many grumble. “It’s all very dubious,” says a pensioner who is walking along the Oder. Criticism is also directed at the state government. How did the fish die? How can it be that it takes so long to analyze the water and the fish? Do you want to cover something up? Not only the bus driver, who likes to talk, is wondering, fishermen, environmentalists and volunteers are also suspicious.

Image: dpa

For those who do not know the Oder well, it looks completely normal again just a few days after the accident, at least from the promenade. “There are a few fish again,” says the waiter at the Greek restaurant on the water. He always feeds her bread. “For a few days there weren’t any in the water at all.” On the shore of the island of Ziegenwerder, the dragonflies buzz, the water surface sometimes gurgles as if something alive is circling beneath it again, and indeed, every now and then small fish scurry through the water. But every few meters you also come across carcasses washed up late, large fish and mussels whose flesh is dead swimming in the water. Depending on how the wind blows, it smells strong.

The people of Frankfurt are far from the only ones dealing with the dead fish. The environmental catastrophe stretches over 500 kilometers. Only about 15 kilometers of the river are in Frankfurt’s area of ​​responsibility. In the neighboring district of Märkisch-Oderland it is 80 kilometers. But the city was the first in the area to defy the country’s recommendations and do something about the dead fish.

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