The color of the gills of the dead fish from Bečva did not indicate cyanide poisoning, the fisherman said

The color of the gills of the dead fish from Bečva did not indicate cyanide poisoning, the fisherman said

The color of the gills of the dead fish from Bečva did not indicate cyanide poisoning, the fisherman said

Illustrative photo – Hearing of the case of poisoning of the Bečva River by the Energoaqua company from September 2020, January 30, 2023, District Court, Vsetín.

Vsetín – The color of the gills of the dead fish from the Bečva River on the day of the accident did not indicate cyanide poisoning. Fisherman Stanislav Pernický stated this at the Vsetín District Court, which is discussing the poisoning from Sunday, September 20, 2020. On the day of the accident, he was walking by the river. He is convinced that the source of the poisoning was significantly lower than the discharge of the Energoaqua company, which, together with its director Oldřich Havelka, is a defendant in the case. According to the plaintiff, it caused pollution of Bečva with poisonous cyanides and hexavalent chromium, at least on 37 kilometers of the river.

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The chairman of the local organization of the fishermen's union in Hustopeče nad Bečvou in Přerovsk found out about the poisoning on Sunday at noon. He said that after five minutes he was at the river where by then there were hundreds of dead fish. According to Pernické, live fish were swimming in all directions, gasping for air, some jumping ashore. On the day of the poisoning, he and his colleagues fished out about 500 kilograms of dead fish from the river near the road bridge near Hustopečí nad Bečvou. “None of the fish we pulled out of the water had gills the color of ripe cherries, which is characteristic of cyanide poisoning. On the contrary, the fish had lighter-colored gills,” said Pernický.

Like some other fishermen before, he said in court that he smelled chlorine or disinfectant at the river at the time of the poisoning. He allegedly felt it in the following days, he had health problems with the nasal mucosa and dry hands. Like many of his colleagues, Pernický also confirmed that the first fish began to die in the section between Lhotka nad Bečvou and Choryní in Vsetínsk, i.e. about 3.5 kilometers from the channel of the Energoaqua company, through which, according to the prosecutor, poisonous substances got into the water.

In connection with the accident, Pernický criticized the actions of the Water Authority and the Czech Environmental Inspectorate (ČIŽP). He stated that fishermen near Hustopečí nad Bečvou at the time of the poisoning took water samples in rinsed PET bottles and handed them over to an employee of the water authority. He claimed the fishermen told her when, where and how the samples were taken. However, the employee of the Municipal Office in Hranice na Přerovsk, who took the samples, previously stated in court that they were inconclusive, together with the ČIŽP employee, and they took new ones. However, it was with a considerable time gap. “The water samples could be used to find out what substance poisoned the fish in the water,” Pernický said.

He also criticized the work of the police. “We were one of the first to report the accident on the Bečva river. It is paradoxical that the police interviewed us online only after 42 days. I do not think that this is the usual and correct thing,” said Pernický. The main trial continues with the statements of other witnesses.

The representative of the defendant company Vladimír Kurka and Havelka denied guilt in the case. For damaging and endangering the environment and unauthorized handling of protected wild animals and wild plants, Havelka faces up to five years in prison, the company's ban on activity and a fine.

The Energoaqua company manages the factory site in Rožnov pod Radhoštěm in the Vsetín region. It also provides wastewater treatment. They leave the area via the canal that flows into Bečva in Valašské Meziříčí. According to prosecutor Jiří Sachro, it was through this channel that cyanides and hexavalent chromium got into the river. The indictment states that this resulted in a massive kill of more than 39 tons of fish. The poisoning affected the river in the section below Valašský Meziříčí as far as Přerov, according to experts, the poisonous substances there damaged the biotope and the conditions for all water-bound organisms.