OT Anger at pollution firm's (Esmeralda) bankruptcy move

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Thursday, 16 March, 2000, 10:18 GMT

Anger at pollution firm's bankruptcy move

The cyanide spill happened at the end of January Hungary has accused an Australian mining company of going into receivership to avoid taking responsibility for a cyanide spill affecting rivers across Eastern Europe.

Esmeralda Exploration has been blamed for the first of three chemical spills in the area in the last six weeks.

It went into receivership - the first step in bankruptcy proceedings - in anticipation of multi-million dollar compensation claims.

A spokesman for administrators Hall Chadwick said on Thursday that while no claims had yet been filed, threats had been made.

The head of the Hungarian Parliament's environmental protection committee, Zoltan Illes, said: "This is just a trick on their side to not pay compensation."

He said that if the company could not or would not pay up, his government would pursue through international courts the banks and investors who backed those responsible.

Taking action

One of the administrators, Kim Strickland, later denied that the company was moving towards bankruptcy to avoid paying compensation.

"Some people have said the company is trying to hide from its responsibility but it's the opposite, we're rying to bring it to a head," he said.

Esmeralda was a 50% partner in the Baia Mare gold tailings mine along with Romanian state firm Remin.

The mine spilled 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-tainted water into river systems in Romania, Hungary, Yugoslavia and the Ukraine six weeks ago.

Thousands of fish died and the drinking water of more than two million people was poisoned.

Unique species of birds and insects could become extinct because of the spill.

'Not responsible'

Esmeralda has consistently denied any direct link with the fish and pollution.

The spokesman for Hall Chadwick said liability would become clearer once environmental reports, by the United Nations and European Union, had been completed.

Hungarian officials have called the spills the worst ecological disaster in the region since the 1986 Chernobyl nuclear plant accident.

The latest spill into the River Tisza on Wednesday was believed to contain heavy metals, which dyed the river black for at least 20km.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 16, 2000


If they don't have the money to pay for the damage. The CEO's should go to jail for life.

-- gilda (jess@listbot.com), March 16, 2000.

What happened to "Inocent until proven guilty". Everyone involved is still waiting for the official investigation to table their report into what actually happened and what the real (not just the hyped pictures reported by the media) damage was caused.

-- downunder (downunder@oz.com.au), March 16, 2000.

You're right, downunder; the company has consistently denied any responsibility for what happened. We'll have to wait to see what the final word is. You must admit, though, that it does look suspicious.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 16, 2000.


http://www.nandotimes.com/noframes/story/0,2107 ,500181708-500240270-501195692-0,00.html

BUCHAREST, Romania (March 17, 2000 12:08 p.m. EST


Australianmining company Esmeralda said Friday it regretted the accident that caused a cyanide discharge into Europe's rivers.

The company, which is part owner of the Romanian mine where the spill originated, denied it had appointed an independent administrator to avoid paying compensation.

"Esmeralda Exploration Ltd. regrets everything that has happened and is prepared to cooperate," the company said in a statement. Esmeralda's board said media coverage of the incident left the company with "no option" other than to have its listing removed from the Australian Stock Exchange.

The company said it appointed an independent administrator Wednesday as "a preventive measure to avoid bankruptcy."

Under Australian corporate law, a company can appoint administrators if it is insolvent or believes it will become insolvent. It means directors cannot be held personally liable for the company's debts.

No claims have been filed yet, but the company's assets have been frozen. Administrators said the future of the company is uncertain.

Esmeralda is a 50 percent partner in the Baia Mare mine, sharing ownership with the Romanian state firm Remin.

On Jan. 30, heavy rains overflowed a dam, discharging 130,000 cubic yards of cyanide-tainted water from a gold mine reservoir into river systems in Romania, Hungary and Yugoslavia. The cyanide spill has been described as Europe's worst river pollution disaster in a decade.

Hungary, which said the spill killed some 200 tons of fish in the Tisza River, last month announced it would seek millions of dollars in compensation from the mine's owners.

Esmeralda insists it has not yet been proved that the fish died as a result of the cyanide spill. At least five investigations into the spill are under way, including probes by experts from the United Nations and European Union.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 17, 2000.

Isn't a similar Operation going on(leaching for gold with cyanide)in the US,somewhere in the northwest,I believe??

-- TED (We@risk.here?), March 18, 2000.


Can't answer for the US, but I do know a Canadian company is using the technique in Guyana with attendant pollution that has been occurring for a number of years now.

-- viewer (justp@ssing.by), March 18, 2000.

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