Soldiers and firefighters remove dead fish from the Oder River near Slubice, Poland, on Friday. Photo by Lech Muszynski/EPA-EFE
Aug. 13 (UPI) -- Local Polish officials have called for an investigation into a large fish die-off along the Oder River that flows through the country, Germany and the Czech Republic.
Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki said 150 troops have been placed along the 522-mile stretch of the river to help clean up the tons of fish dying off from what some suspect is caused by chemical waste dumped into the waterway.
Morawiecki said he sacked the head of the Polish Waters Co., Przemysław Daca, and the head of the General Environmental Inspectorate, Michał Mistrzak, because of the disaster.
"It is likely that enormous amounts of chemical waste have been dumped into the river," Morawiecki said, according to Polskie Radio. "The problem is enormous. The wave of pollution runs from Wrocław to Szczecin. Those are hundreds of kilometers of river. The pollution is gigantic."
While authorities are still investigating the source of the spill, local media reported that elevated levels of mercury were detected in German water samples from the region. Scientists are also factoring in climate change in the die-off.
Environmental groups have accused the Polish government of moving too slowly to contain the death of fish, which local fishermen first reported in late July.
"An environmental catastrophe is looming," German Environment Minister Steffi Lemke said, according to The Washington Post. "All sides are working flat out to find the reasons for this mass [killing of fish] and minimize potential further damage."