Greenpeace activists climbed the hoisting tower of the Bielszowice mine shaft this morning and unfurled huge banners there with slogans like The Mines Are Poisoning the Oder and End Fossil Crimes. In this way, they object to the further destruction of the Oder River and the fact that Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki and his subordinate ministers are ignoring the problem. The activists are demanding that the Prime Minister urgently reduce salt discharges from mines and are appealing to President Andrzej Duda not to sign the law that is destructive to the Oder.
A year has passed since the tragic events on the Oder River. Nothing has been done so far by Prime Minister Morawiecki and his ministers to limit its salinization. Last year’s catastrophe on the Oder was one of the largest in recent years in Europe. The Bielszowice mine, which belongs to the Polish Mining Group, is one of the mines that continuously discharges saline effluent into the tributaries of the Oder and the Vistula. The high salt levels were one of the crucial causes of the disaster that began in the Oder a year ago. Among other things, this is confirmed by an expert report commissioned by the European Commission. Activists are calling for a reduction in the amount of salt being poured into Polish rivers as soon as possible. They are addressing their appeal to Prime Minister Morawiecki, his subordinate ministers, and President Andrzej Duda, who will decide the fate of the Oder bill.
At the height of the Oder disaster, Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki thundered, "We will not let this matter go. We will not rest until the guilty are severely punished. This is no ordinary crime; this damage will stay with us for years.” However, the Prime Minister apparently relented. A year later, the salted effluent from the mines, which was the cause of one of the biggest environmental disasters in Europe in recent years, is still finding its way into the Oder. The wastewater discharged by the Bielszowice mine alone is twice as salty as the Baltic Sea. "What we demand is action, not empty promises. The Oder is still being devastated, and the Prime Minister is doing nothing,” said Małgorzata Lach, one of the activists taking part in the protest.
Greenpeace activists expect immediate action from the Prime Minister and his subordinate ministers. They demand:
- to limit salt discharges into the Oder and other Polish rivers to an absolute minimum;
- to use efficient methods of mine water desalination;
- to carry out the legally required environmental impact assessments of coal mines.
On Friday, the Parliament approved the proposed draft of the Oder Bill prepared by the government. It thereby ignored the voices of citizens who had sent thousands of messages to MPs defending the Oder and the voices of scientists and environmental organisations. The bill will now be signed by President Andrzej Duda. Activists are appealing to the president not to sign it.
"The Oder tragedy is one of the greatest catastrophes in the modern history of European rivers. It has shaken public opinion in many countries and is still affecting the lives of the people living in the areas adjacent to it. The Oder is a victim of the actions of the mining sector under Prime Minister Morawiecki, and despite this, it has continuously failed to receive any real help. The ecosystem has been destroyed, and people whose lives are linked to the river have suffered. We demand the protection of the Oder and that it will no longer be flooded with salt. This is the only way the river will be able to start slowly coming back to life. In addition, the parliament has passed a law that will make the situation of the river even worse. Continued concreting and flooding it with salt will not do any good. The president shouldn’t sign this harmful project,” said Paweł Szypulski, director of Greenpeace Poland.
Last year, 50% of the fish and as many as 90% of the mussels in the section between Nowa Sól and Szczecin died out. It will take years for the populations of the species living there to recover, and so far they have not been given this chance.
For more info;
Krzysztof Cibor, Greenpeace Poland Campaigns Unit Head, firstname.lastname@example.org