Romanian Official Says Cyanide Spill Was Deliberate : LUSENET : Grassroots Information Coordination Center (GICC) : One Thread

Nando Times

Romanian official says cyanide spill deliberate

By ALEXANDRU ALEXE, Associated Press

BUCHAREST, Romania (January 22, 2001 10:48 p.m. EST - The cyanide that killed thousands of fish last week and poisoned Romanians who ate them was spilled into a river deliberately, a government official said Monday.

Valeria Ditoiu, an official with the local water authorities, said high cyanide levels were discovered upstream from the chemical company where officials first thought the spill originated. That fact indicated the cyanide was dumped intentionally, he said.

"What happened here cannot be considered a mistake or an accident. It is much more than that," said Ioan Cusnir, the head of the local government in Suceava County, where the spill occurred.

Nearly 60 people were hospitalized for gastritis and kidney problems after eating contaminated fish despite government warnings that the fish were a health hazard. Doctors went on television asking all people who ate the contaminated fish to seek treatment immediately.

The spill was thought to have begun at Metadet, a chemical-producing company near Lespezi, 210 miles northeast of Bucharest. The company was immediately fined $800.

It was unclear how much of the chemical poured into the Siret River, but environmental officials reported Friday that cyanide was 128 times the accepted levels in the Siret and one of its tributaries. Authorities released extra water into the river, and the level of cyanide was reduced to less than half the initial levels on Monday.

The spill occurred in one of the most impoverished areas of this former communist country. The average monthly salary in the rural area equals just $100, and unemployment is about 20 percent, compared to the national average of 11 percent.

-- Rachel Gibson (, January 22, 2001

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