PM vows stiff punishment for River Odra pollution

"We will do everything to return the Odra to its natural state, for its rebirth," Morawiecki said. Maciej Kulczyński/PAP

Mateusz Morawiecki, Poland's prime minister, said on Monday that the government will look for ways to tighten laws against the illegal dumping of waste into rivers while promising harsh punishments for those found guilty.

The prime minister said that the Council of Ministers would debate the subject at a meeting on Tuesday.

Morawiecki's announcement came after reports of up to 80 tonnes of dead fish being hauled from Poland's second longest river, the Odra, since fish deaths were first reported in late-July. The cause of the deaths is still being investigated.

Speaking at a press conference in the southern province of Lower Silesia, where he had met firefighters, Territorial Defence Force troops and environmental volunteers dealing with the ecological disaster, Morawiecki said: "It is important that if some sort of toxic poisoning took place, such things should not be repeated. That's why tomorrow, during the Council of Ministers, a special debate will be devoted to how to tighten the laws against these criminals who throw various substances into waterways and rivers."

Describing Poland's "beautiful nature" as a common heritage and national asset, the prime minister added: "That's why I'll do everything to not only to ultimately clarify the cause of this dreadful ecological event, but also to build preventative security mechanisms wherever possible."

He thanked the uniformed services and volunteers for their work to minimise the environmental fallout of the event and expressed his conviction that not only would it be successful but that appropriate conclusions would also be drawn from the catastrophe.

"We will do everything to return the Odra to its natural state, for its rebirth," Morawiecki said.