Saturday, January 30, 2010

Pollution: Romania - marking the tenth anniversary of massive cyanide spill

The northern Romanian town of Baia Mare

The tenth anniversary of a massive cyanide spill in northern Romania is a reminder of the need for vigilance to prevent industrial accidents, the United Nations Economic Commission for Europe (UNECE) said today.

A dam burst at 10 p.m. on 30 January 2000, releasing more than 100,000 cubic metres – the equivalent of 40 Olympic-sized swimming pools – of cyanide and water contaminated with heavy metals into the Sasar, Lapus, Somes and Tisza rivers. Over the course of two weeks, the polluted water travelled to the Danube and eventually reached the Black Sea.

The contamination killed a large number of fish and disrupted water supplies, and the true economic toll of the spill will never be known, with the pollution set to linger in the environment for many more decades.

UNECE underscored the importance of continuing to work towards reducing the likelihood of an industrial accident.

The Commission serves as the secretariat of the Convention on the Transboundary Effects of Industrial Accidents, also known as the Industrial Accidents Convention, which entered into force in 2000. The pact seeks to curb the chances of accidents occurring and also to minimize their effects, especially on neighbouring nations.

Various mechanisms have been set up as part of the Convention, including a web-based notification system for countries to alert others about any spills and training sessions with local authorities to practice emergency response procedures.

Published by i On Global Trends - Mike Hitchen Online - news, opinion, analysis
See also Sydney Irresistible and for personal comment, Mike Hitchen Unleashed
Putting principles before profits