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News|24 Aug, 2022

Open letter from WWF urges Baltic governments action to manage the ecological disaster in the Oder River and prevent similar incidents in the future.

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WWF offices and partner organizations around the Baltic are concerned about the ecological catastrophe of historical proportions that is caused by the pollution incident in the Oder River. It is potentially the largest freshwater catastrophe in Europe, which has caused the death of hundreds of tonnes of fish and negatively impacted other aquatic life, in what is the third biggest river by catchment area in the Baltic region.

We are concerned by the slow and insufficient response by the Polish government and its agencies responsible for the supervision of water quality and water management.  Water quality has not been tested systematically, initial samples went missing and the warning and alarm procedures of the International Commission for the Protection of the Odra River against Pollution were initiated more than ten days too late. In addition, proactive communication with appropriate counterpart agencies in Baltic states has been limited, despite Oder River draining into the Baltic Sea, which is already significantly contaminated by hazardous substances. Without proper action, the pollution and its effects on the Oder risk impacting Baltic ecosystems.

While the responsibility to take urgent action lies with Poland and Germany, the potential effect on the Baltic Sea is one of common concern. Thus, we urge you to join forces and support the endeavor to clean up and restore the ecosystem of the Oder River. This level of emergency calls for coordinated action on par with large oil spills or natural disasters.

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Last modified 24/08/22

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