On Thursday, August 11, in Cigacice near Zielona Góra, the United Right government organized a press conference devoted to the case of dead fish in the Odra River. Local residents present at the scene emphasized that the authorities had taken action too late, and some had not actually started yet.
The press conference began with Deputy Minister of Infrastructure Grzegorz Witkowski. – I would like to thank the inhabitants of the Silesian, Opole, Lower Silesian, Lubuskie, and perhaps soon the West Pomeranian Voivodeships, who are victims of some bandit who decided to poison one of the most important rivers in our country – said the politician.
– Ladies and gentlemen, we are not spending several million zlotys on stocking fish, on ecological protection of Polish rivers, so that someone, whether a local government or an enterprise, whether state or private, can poison Polish rivers with impunity, he said.
An angry resident interrupts a conference in Cigacice
– We spend PLN 10 million a year on the development of the Vistula, Oder, Pilica, Narew, Bug and San rivers, and it all went to the Baltic Sea today with dead fish. Responsibility lies primarily with those who did it, he said. – Meaning? I mean who? Because it’s been two weeks! – interrupted a nervous man who introduced himself as a resident of the region.
– Fortunately, thanks to the state, fishermen, anglers, Polish Waters, and local government officials, the Provincial Inspector of Environmental Protection and Polish Waters managed to activate appropriate services so that we could take samples of this contaminated water for testing – said the minister.
– I guarantee you that all these tests will be made available to you within a week at most and you will know what substance, what element… because we are talking about Oława, Wrocław, Kędzierzyn-Koźle, Azoty… I don’t want to talk about guilty, because we don’t know who is guilty yet, said the representative of the authorities. – However, the number of dead fish and polluted water in the Oder is not a normal situation that happens every year – he added.
A government that is lenient towards eco-bandits?
The listeners’ patience ran out when the minister began to link the Oder poisoning with events from years ago in Warsaw and Gdańsk. – I would like to say something else and please do not underestimate it. Four years ago in Warsaw, we had to deal with the Czajka disaster – the politician began, to which he was met with laughter from the gathered residents.
– Two years ago we had to deal with recidivism in the same situation – continued the undeterred politician, adding the case from Gdańsk. – Nobody was held responsible. Because local government officials asked us not to impose high fines for causing an ecological disaster. Unfortunately, we fulfilled this request, the minister unexpectedly stated, admitting his government’s incomprehensible leniency. – And thanks to this, we have made all local governments bolder – he added.
Passivity regarding the Oder. “Did Mr. Kaczyński go on holiday?”
At this point, an elderly man standing on the other side of the microphones started shouting over the politician in a loud voice. Please don’t talk about local governments and Dulkiewicz. This school of dead fish has been floating around for two weeks. Specifics! – He demanded.
Unsatisfied with the answer, he continued his tirade. – We have been reporting for two weeks that the river smells. Dead fish have been floating around for two weeks. And what is the government doing during these two weeks? Mr. Kaczyński went on vacation, is he stopping the campaign? – he asked a group of politicians.
In response, he heard that crisis teams were convened every other day in individual voivodeships. – What do you take money for? – asked a resident of the region.
No RCB alerts regarding the Odra River
Then Jacek Ozdoba from the Ministry of Climate appeared in front of the microphones. This politician managed to resist being shouted at and complimenting the involvement of the most active observers of the conference. He announced that the army will support activists who have so far been fighting the disaster on the Odra River. He also announced that a crisis meeting of the combined voivodeships would be held immediately after the briefing.
However, Jacek Ozdoba’s words did not completely calm down the mood. The loud man asked the remaining audience if they had heard that only “platitudes” were delivered at the conference. Another person pointed out that the words about the authorities’ quick response were untrue. “There was no warning,” the woman pointed out. – You were able to send text messages to everyone about the fact that the wind is not blowing and you can go to the polls. It was impossible to send information that the Measles was poisoned, added the most active resident.
Witkowski: And what do you need these buckets and gloves for?
At some point, a man also made his voice heard, presenting himself as a representative of “community activists”, a 60-person group fighting the effects of the disaster in the region on their own. He drew attention to the fact that a large group of “important people” gathered at the conference. – Can you declare in front of them that the money allocated for the calendar promoting the Odra River will be entirely used to buy us buckets, gloves and sandals? – He asked.
– We are not political, we are social activists. Please promise here in front of the cameras – he said back to Deputy Minister Grzegorz Witkowski, who returned to the microphone. – What do you need these buckets and gloves for? – asked the politician. – We have nothing, we buy everything ourselves: gloves, Wellington boots, everything – the social activist explained stubbornly.
At this point, the deputy minister was replaced by another representative of the authorities. – On behalf of the Lubuskie Voivode, I can assure you that personal protective equipment is secured and will be made available – he said. – We don’t have it, we’re already working today – the man replied. – Please write us an e-mail – he was told. – Yesterday I wrote – the activist could not be dismissed. – After the conference, we will meet and solve the matter – said the politician at the end.