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English Section

Probe after Warsaw sewage dumped into river

02.09.2020 11:00
Prosecutors have opened a probe after massive amounts of sewage were diverted into Poland’s largest river, the Vistula, following a malfunction at a Warsaw treatment plant.
Michał Dworczyk, chief of staff to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.
Michał Dworczyk, chief of staff to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki.Photo: PAP/Wojciech Olkuśnik

Thousands of tonnes of sewage have been pumped directly into the river since the system broke down on Saturday, according to reports.

The investigation launched by the District Prosecutor's Office in Warsaw aims to look into possible neglect of duty by public officials "in supervising the collection of wastewater,” thus potentially posing a health risk to people and leading to environmental pollution, spokeswoman Agnieszka Zabłocka-Konopka told reporters on Tuesday.

Earlier, Maritime Affairs and Inland Navigation Minister Marek Gróbarczyk said his ministry had notified prosecutors about a case of contamination of the Vistula with Warsaw sewage.

Gov’t will help remedy Warsaw sewage crisis: official

Meanwhile, Michał Dworczyk, chief of staff to Polish Prime Minister Mateusz Morawiecki, told a news conference that the government would help build a makeshift pipeline to deal with the sewage crisis in Warsaw and stop raw waste from being dumped into the river.

He was speaking after a crisis management team met earlier in the day at the Prime Minister’s Office in the Polish capital.

The meeting was held after Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski asked the government to help resolve the problem, officials said.

Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka Warsaw Mayor Rafał Trzaskowski. Photo: PAP/Radek Pietruszka

Since the Warsaw sewage collection system malfunctioned at the end of last week, City Hall has sought to allay concerns, saying the sewage was being treated with ozone before being discharged, but some officials have issued warnings to the public over possible environmental and health risks.

The Vistula River bisects the Polish capital and empties into the Baltic Sea in the country’s north.

Sewage was being diverted into the river as an emergency measure to prevent the city from being flooded by a blocked-up sewer system.

Raw sewage flowing into the Vistula River on Sunday. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański Raw sewage flowing into the Vistula River on Sunday. Photo: PAP/Leszek Szymański

The city’s water and sewage company said the emergency discharge of waste from the part of Warsaw on the west bank of the Vistula River followed a collector system failure at the Czajka sewage treatment plant on the river’s east bank.

The company has notified prosecutors that "the failure may have been caused by an act of sabotage or terrorism," state news agency PAP reported.

Trzaskowski told reporters that the emergency discharge posed no threat to drinking water in Warsaw.

Meanwhile, the Government Centre for Security (RCB) sent out text messages warning residents in areas north of Warsaw, including the city of Płock some 110 kilometres downstream, not to go swimming or practice water sports in the Vistula.

Sewage was being discharged into the river at a rate similar to that when the Warsaw collector system previously malfunctioned last summer, broadcaster TVP Info reported.

(gs)

Source: IAR, PAP, TVP Info