PM fires officials for poor response to Odra river crisis

Morawiecki made the announcement of the dismissal of Polish Water’s Przemyslaw Daca (pictured), and Michal Mistrzak on Friday evening. Grzegorz Michałowski/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, the prime minister, has fired, the CEO of Polish Waters, the state-owned company in charge of water management in Poland, and the head of the Environmental Protection Inspectorate in response to their handling of the River Odra pollution disaster.

Morawiecki made the announcement of the dismissal of Polish Water’s Przemyslaw Daca, and Michal Mistrzak on Friday evening.

Writing on social media the prime minister said that "the situation related to the poisoning of one of the largest Polish rivers - the Odra, within a dozen or so hours has become the most important topic of public debate".

"The situation we are dealing with could not have been predicted, but the reaction of the relevant services could certainly have come faster... therefore, I made a decision to immediately dismiss the head of Polish Waters, Przemyslaw Dacy, and the head of the Chief Inspectorate of Environmental Protection, Michal Mistrzak."

So far at least 11 tonnes of dead fish have been pulled from the river, and there are fears that the river could be affected for years to come by the toxic spill.

"I completely share your concerns and indignation about this matter and I will do everything possible to minimise the effects of the contamination and its impact on the ecosystem as quickly as possible," Morawiecki continued, adding that those responsible will be found and punished "as severely as possible!" 

"Lessons for the future will be drawn and procedures improved. The responsibility of officials is an important issue, but now the protection of people and nature is our most pressing concern," stressed the prime minister.

He also pointed out that the cause and source of the contamination were still unknown but made it clear that Poland is "dealing with one of the most serious environmental contaminations for a long time".

"I am treating the matter of the Odra poisoning of the highest priority, and I am in constant contact with the Ministry of Infrastructure, the Ministry of Interior and Administration, the Ministry of Climate and Environment, provinces and other authorities, and services fighting the effects of the contamination," wrote the prime minister.