GB No. 4, spring 1991

A dramatic report on the environmental destruction by the Soviet Army in Poland


Waste to the woods, sewers to the river. Not one of the Soviet garrisons stationed in Poland has shown the slightest regard for laws protecting the environment. Commanders do not recognize it as their duty to repair the ecological damage, nor to pay compensation.

The State Inspectorate for the Protection of the Environment has been working on a report on the ecological consequences of the presence of the Soviet Army in Poland, based on tests at nine out of 38 garrisons.

There has been an ecological catastrophe at Stara Kopernia, for example, where kerosene, which for years has been leaking through faulty plumbing and containers, has permeated the sandy soil and created a layer of oil 90 cm thick above groundwaters.

"Thousands of tonnes of oil-based substances have penetrated into the ground, yet a thimbleful is enough to contaminate a large area of water", affirms the country's leading geologist Wojciech Brochwicz-Lewiński. "The polluted zone stretches far beyond the limits of the army camps. Dirty water also gets into the ground from airfields, since at every take off, a military aircraft drops 3 tonnes of unburnt fuel. Detailed geological research is necessary to determine the extent of the pollution. Until now, Soviet soldiers have prevented geologists from collecting soil samples".

Oil pollution of the soil has been confirmed in all the garrisons examined. In the river at Szprotawa oil based substances amount to 192 mg/ litre, over the permitted level of 5 mg/litre. The harbor waters at Świno- ujście show three times the recommended levels.

"It's difficult to estimate the cost of repairing this damage", says Brochwicz-Lewiński. "In Międzylesie alone 20-30 mld zloties are necessary to build a screen preventing oil leaks into the Baltic. Neutralization of the pollution will be many times more expensive".

The Soviet Army units did not organize any form of waste disposal, did not build water purification systems, nor did they buy permission to use groundwaters, nor pay for the connection to town water supply and sewerage system.

Household and overflow sewers from Kluczewo flow unpurified into Lake Miedwie, the main drinking water reservoir for Szczecin. Bacteriological pollution in the local water intake has increased 10 000 fold.

Waste and slag from local boiler rooms and disused military equipment are disposed of in woods or in cultivable fields. Refuse from the army hospital in Żagań is taken to tips (the law states such refuse should be incinerated). Hospital sewers drain untreated and without disinfection through the municipal sewerage system into the river.

The State Agency for the Protection of the Environment, after the tests, ordered commanders to carry out the necessary work or face fines. Until now, no money has been extricated. The Soviets do not feel bound to bear the costs of environmental destruction, since "there is no such article in the intergovernmental agreement of 1956 on the stationing of the Soviet military forces in Poland".

Lynn Townsend
on base (map) article "Złom do lasu,
ścieki do rzeki" in "Gazeta Wyborcza"
9(188) 11.01.91

PS. I think, that the Polish Army garrisons destroy the environment at the same scale, but, unfortunately, they have no place to go out.


GB No. 4, spring 1991 | Contents