Environmental scandal in Bern – fish deaths in Blausee: have the authorities failed? – News


  • Blausee AG considers illegally deposited gravel to be the cause of several fish deaths in Blausee.
  • She raises allegations against the authorities: “We would never have thought that something like this would be possible in Switzerland.”
  • Government councilor Christoph Neuhaus defends himself: The canton of Bern has limited resources for controls. The construction companies did not work “decently”.

Blausee AG raises serious allegations against the Bernese authorities: “What worries us is the fact that all authorities have been informed for three months”, says Stefan Linder, Chairman of the Board of Directors of Blausee AG. But from his point of view, far too little has happened on the part of the canton so far.

Linder says he never thought something like this was possible in Switzerland. “I always thought that there were a lot of laws that protect us.” The drinking water is one of the most important goods in this country, he emphasizes to the “Rundschau”.

Illegally contaminated gravel dumped

Blausee AG has had to fight several fish deaths since 2018. 1000 tons of old gravel contaminated with heavy metals and toxins were illegally dumped in the quarry above the lake. This is how pollutants presumably got into the groundwater.


Hundreds of fish have perished in the Blausee in the Bernese Oberland since 2018.


The polluted ballast from the Lötschberg tunnel is still openly reloaded and temporarily stored on the quarry site. The canton of Bern wants to tolerate this until the end of September. This is incomprehensible to Linder.

Don’t act like the Wild West

“We didn’t miss out,” said Jacques Ganguin, head of the Bern Office for Water and Waste, against the allegations. But the state is bound by administrative principles. “We can’t move like sheriffs in the Wild West.” The state cannot end something overnight because of a suspicion.

His office took the incidents seriously. In the summer, the canton ordered that the illegally stored material had to be dredged again. Ganguin emphasizes that the current situation does not pose an acute environmental hazard from the authorities’ point of view. “The residual risk is acceptable.” Therefore, the open reloading and interim storage of the contaminated ballast is tolerated.

AG does not feel taken seriously

Stefan Linder has the feeling of running into a wall: For the Chairman of the Board of Directors of Blausee AG it is incomprehensible that such a large construction site is not better controlled. Especially since there are tons of material loaded with sensitive substances. Linder demands a complete investigation of the incident.

Bern’s construction and traffic director Christoph Neuhaus says in an interview that he has too few staff to carry out controls in each of the 130 gravel pits in the canton.

A respected corporation was entrusted with the tunnel renovation: “One can assume that a renowned construction company with experience and specialists will do the job properly,” says the government council. Much in society is based on trust. “Here we were taught better.”

Canton wants to learn lessons from history

The construction company had to dig up the incorrectly deposited material and transport it away. “That cost her accordingly,” says Neuhaus. In addition, the company now has bad press.

His management will learn their lessons from the company’s next major construction site: “Next time there will be control – and no more controlling. If someone doesn’t stick to the rules, it’s better to control », said the Bernese government council.

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