UPPER SILESIA - Mine water from the coal mines of Upper Silesia in Poland due to a Greenpeace report released in March 2023 is considered to be the main source of the salt of the Oder River. The salt in a freshwater river which contributed decisively to the bloom of a toxic algae causing massive fish kill in summer 2022 in Polish and German sections oft he river. How could it have come to this?

A Polish and a German reporter go on a search in the mining region of Upper Silesia and are astonished about what they discover: more ecological solutions of mine water disposal protecting the Oder river in Poland from salinisation were developed a long time ago. There is a dosing system for discharge into the river and even a desalination plant that fabricates common salt from the mine water. However, only a few pits are connected. Why didn't this set a precedent? One important reason is Polish law, that makes pollution legal and much cheaper than ecological investments.

What consequences the salted water in the Oder river has for the German side

In context of the fish kill in the summer of 2022, the causes appear to lie primarily with discharges of mine water in Poland. But there are also industrial plants on the German bank, such as a paper mill or a refinery, which discharge wastewater into the Oder River. Are they doing better? Is monitoring by the authorities stricter? What consequences does the salinisation of the river mean for the German users of the Oder, especially for a steal plant using water from the river as coolant?

Team members

Nancy Waldmann

Nancy Waldmann is a German journalist. 

Nancy Waldmann

Bartek Sabela

Bartek Sabela is polish reporter, photographer and activist.

Bartek Sabela
€17.600 allocated on 23/05/2023



  • Kohle und Sole - warum das Salz immer noch in der Oder landet, MOZ, 06/07/2023

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