Update: Impact of Romanian Cyanide Spill May Not Be Known for Months

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An update on this unfolding story is below. There is some intriguing information from Romania that I posted on an earlier thread that suggests that a technological failure may have contributed to the spill. Here's the link to that thread: Was Romainian Cyanide spill caused or exacerbated by technological failure?


Feb 20, 2000 - 07:10 AM

Impact of Cyanide Spill May Not Be Known for Months

The Associated Press

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) - The impact of last month's cyanide spill into two major European rivers may not be known until the spring thaw, a Hungarian scientist says.

Dr. Laszlo Galle, a professor of ecology at Szeged University, said Hungarian teams were regularly taking water and mud samples from the Tisza River, checking not only for traces of cyanide but also iron, cadmium and other heavy metals.

"The full process is yet to come to an end," Galle told The Associated Press in a telephone interview Saturday. "The cyanide has gone downstream but other materials are still in the mud and we'll see what happens when the weather warms up" in the spring.

About 100 tons of cyanide and heavy metals spilled over the earthen walls of a containment lake in northern Romania on Jan. 30, entering streams that carried the pollutants to the Tisza River in northeastern Hungary.

From there, the poisoned water flowed into the Danube River south of Belgrade, Yugoslavia. Tons of fish and other wildlife were killed.

In neighboring Bulgaria on Sunday, the environment minister said her country would consider asking Romania to pay compensation for damage caused to the Danube.

Evdokia Maneva told state radio that cyanide levels in the western section of Bulgaria's stretch of the Danube were 40 percent higher than internationally accepted levels.

"International conventions stipulate that every country that causes an incident affecting another country must bear responsibility," she said.

Maneva said Romanian environmental officials had failed to properly inform Bulgaria about the extent of the pollution when the accident occurred.



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 20, 2000


This spill is gearing up to be as bad as the Chernobyl accident. Senseless devastation.

-- Chris (!@#$#@pond.com), February 20, 2000.

yes it is Chris, Here's some more info on the spill:Romanian Environment Minister Romica Tomescu said Thursday that the disaster came at a particularly bad time because Romania had just opened official negotiations with the European Union last week. " We must show we are worthy of the trust invested in us" by the EU, he said.

Also on Thursday, Tomescu acknowledged for the first time the magnitude of the pollution.

"Romania did not ever want to hide or play down the magnitude of the accident," Tomescu said.

EU Environment Commissioneer Margot Wallstroem called the spill a "major environmental accident, and to the people living by the rivers, this is a catastrophe."

In Vienna, Austria, Philip Weller, director of the World Wildlife Fund's Danube Carpathian program, described the spill as "clearly one of the major river disaster that has happened in Europe in the last decade."

He compared it to the 1987 spill of tons of agricultural chemicals into the Rhine at Basel, Switzerland, after fire damaged a chemical warehouse owned by Sandoz AG.

Environmentalists said then that it might take a decade for the Rhine to fully recover. Wallstroem on Thursday told reporters that the full impact of the cyanide spill may "come in 20 or 50 years".

International officials say preliminary findings indicate about 100 tons of cyanide escaped, alond with tons of toxic heavy metals.

Hungarian Environment Minister Pal Pepo said Thursday an estimated 110 tons of fis died in Hungary and rehabilitation of rivers could take up to 10 years.


-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 20, 2000.

Groan. And now this.


"A few hundred yards down the hill from Dobre's northern Romanian village Sasar, earthen walls of a reservoir owned by the Aurul gold mine had washed away in a downpour, sending 130,000 cubic yards of cyanide-laced water into a nearby creek."

"Even before rain and melting snow swelled the reservoir over its 13 foot walls, many of the 2,500 inhabitants of Sasar had been nervous about living so close to the 230-acre pond and its deadly chemicals."

I swear that in all the reading I have done on this story this is the very first mention I have seen that weather was a factor. Why did it take so long to give that explanation?

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), February 20, 2000.


-- number six (iam_not_a_number@hotmail.com), February 21, 2000.

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