Troops called in to help remove pollutants from River Odra

Since the end of July vast numbers of dead fish have been spotted in the Odra, mainly in the section from Oława (Lower Silesia, south-western Poland) and further downstream. Lech Muszyński/PAP

The Polish government has called in troops to help clean up River Odra following a pollution spill that has killed thousands of fish.

Mariusz Błaszczak, the defence minister, announced the deployment of both regular and territorial soldiers on Thursday afternoon.

Taking to Twitter Błaszczak said the troops would "help remove pollutants from the river."

Since the end of July vast numbers of dead fish have been spotted in the Odra, mainly in the section from Oława (Lower Silesia, south-western Poland) and further downstream. Dead fish have also been seen in the vicinity of Wrocław, and tonnes of them have been removed from river.

The Provincial Inspectorate for Environmental Protection (WIOS) in Wrocław has been investigating the problem since the first reports were received.

According to WIOS inspectors, the pollution may stem from a source in sections of the river before it enters Lower Silesia.

The agency has reported that water samples tested at the end of July showed the presence of cyclic and aromatic hydrocarbon derivatives and the presence of mesitylene (a component of coal tar which is toxic to aquatic life - PAP).

Speaking at a conference in Cigacice (Lubuskie Province) on Thursday afternoon, Jacek Ozdoba, the deputy climate and environment minister, said: "We are most likely dealing with a crime where a substance was introduced into the water that causes the death of fish and other organisms. This is currently being verified."