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Baia Mare Cyanide Spill

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Burak Belli

on 15 May 2015

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Transcript of Baia Mare Cyanide Spill

Baia Mare Cyanide Spill
Cyanide Facts-Use In Mining
Gold is one of the noble metals and as such it is not soluble in water. Cyanide is a chemical matter which stabilizes the gold species in solution. Gold, were obtained using primitive methods until 100 BC. In 1783, Scheele discovered that cyanide solution solves the gold, then it started a very important period in gold production.

Current circumstances are shown that, there is no other
chemical reagents used in place of cyanide in industrial
processes. Alternative solvents are either too expensive or
more toxic than cyanide.

Although this process is highly risky, mining companies that use the process argue that it is safe, and that the safeguards they set in place such as dams that hold back water are infallible.
Therefore, mining companies are not prepared for the worst-case scenario and once disasters take place, companies cannot mitigate the effects properly.
BAIA MARE, Romania

Baia Mare is a municipality along the Săsar
river in northwestern Romania; it is the capital of Maramureş County.
The city is situated about 600 kilometres from Bucharest, 70 km from the border with Hungary,
and 50 km from the border with Ukraine.
Baia Mare had a population of 123,738 at the 2011 census, and a metropolitan area home to 215,932 residents.
2000-The Baia Mare cyanide spill in Romania
«It was called the worst disaster since Cernobyl»

In January 30th, 2000, a retaining wall of tailings dam collapsed due to excessive precipitation at the Aurul gold processing plant in Romania which is a joint-venture of the Australian company Esmeralda Exploration and the Romanian government, releasing approxiametely
100.000 m3 (120 tones)
cyanide and heavy metals(such as lead and arsenic) that moved quickly from one river to the next through Romania, Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria.
As a result of that disaster, there weren’t any loss of lives but it ended up with killing fish and other wildlife, devastating vegetation cover and poisoning drinking water.
Aurul's gold recovery operation at Baia Mare, Romania (Photo courtesy Esmeralda Explorations Ltd.)

Causes of the Baia Mare Spill
Meteorologic conditions was a major factor in the burst of the dam Wall. Just before the day of the incident, high temperatures that have not been seen before occured, causing a massive amount of snow and ice to melt into the dam which was already filled with cyanide and water. In addition, heavy rains occured at the time of the incident.
The Cyanide Spill at Baia Mare, Romania, BEFORE, DURING AND AFTER
The design and engineering of the dam Wall was deficient, lacking of precautionary discharge methods in case of an unexpected overflow.
There was no monitoring of the dam about its condition and emergency measures by the Romanian government. Neither there was a regulation or law about the management of toxic material facilities founded near the water in human settlements endangering both public and environmental health.
When all of these conditions came together, the inevitable happened and on january 30th, 2000, a break formed in the Wall of the Aurul dam, starting the spill of toxic cyanide spread to the waterbodies.
Causes of the Baia Mare Spill
Spread of the Spill Through Water Way
- Introduction
- Cyanide facts-Use in mining
- 2000-The Baia Mare cyanide spill in Romania
- Causes of the Spill
- The Effects of the Spill
- Post-spill strategies and actions
- Sources
what are
of the spill
When the
first poured into the river, tests showed that the concentrations were
700 times higher
than the permitted level.
As a result of this contamination, the entire
around the river was
, especially the
living environment

''The damage given to the environment by the accident can be examined under
3 main headlines.''
effects on
effects on
effects on
Immediate human health
risk seems to
minimal from the spill
, although
chronic health impacts
due to
long-term pollution by heavy metals
Being the population that is exposed to the highest amount of the toxic ever recorded,these health issues are expected to be seen in the long-term.

impaired learning ability
mental retardation
problems with kidney
neurological malfunctions
hearing loss
blood disorder
Although cyanide reacts readily in the environment and degrades or forms complexes and salts of varying stabilities, it is
toxic to many living organisms
even at very low concentrations.
Environmentalists say around 1400 tonnes of dead fish were retrieved dead from the river.
Environmentalists worried about very rare osprey. Two have already died from eating toxic fish.
Hunters tried to keep larger animals away, but they have already found dead foxes and otters.

There were also evidence that the poisoned water filtered into the soil and affected grass, grain and trees.
Immediately after the accident, the use of the river's water was restricted and community was supplied with clean water.
socioeconomic effects
of the accident
cannot be unseen
. Already struggling with the
economic crisis
, Romanian, Hungarian and Former Yugoslavian citizens took the the
early economic impacts

Decrease in the employment in mining,
Sudden and severe loss in the fishery,
Decrease in both domestic and foreign tourism,
The expenditures used for taking precautions,

intercepted the growth of the area..

''Everything down to bacteria is dead. There's more life in a sewage channel than this river now.
Nothing is alive. Zero.''

Jozsef Feiler
from Friends of the Earth in Hungary.
Consequences of the Baia Mare Disaster & Precaution After the Disaster
The disaster has been described as
« worst environmental disaster in Europe since the Chernobyl disaster»

More than 1,400 tons of fish died
a result of environmental effects that destroy fishing activities along Tisza River in Hungary and Danube River in Romania.

Bozinta Mare Village
, Romania is located near dam that was most affected by completely
contaminated drinking water and soil
as Maramureş Country, Romania and other Romanian and Hungarian towns.

Consequences of the Baia Mare Disaster & Precaution After the Disaster

The Aural Company
claimed that the fish were
killed by spills from industrial facility
along the Tisza because of dynamite explosions and raw sewage.

The Aural Company (now Transgold) restarted the operation some months after the disaster
by developing its safety standards based on environmental protection.

However the company
has not paid compensation
except for direclty effected Bozinta Mare Village.

Consequences of the Baia Mare Disaster & Precaution After the Disaster
Romanian government
prohibited fishing and drinking
usage from Danube River’s water in mid –February 2000.

Tisza River
has been slowly recover but in todays, commercial fishing is not possible as
negative effects of the disaster for economic activities.

Environmental groups like
Greenpeace and Friends of the Earth
advocate that disaster results from
unprohibited mining technologies such as gold mining with using the «cyanide heap-leaching technique».
The techniques must be banned in mining activities.

Consequences of the Baia Mare Disaster & Precaution After the Disaster
European Union
«Mining Waste Directive»
in 2006 after Baia Mare Cyanide Spill due to 100,000 cubic meters of cyanide – contaminated water spilled over in Someş, Danube, Tiszca River.
*Another directive of EU is
«Water Framework Directive»
based on
watershed protection.

*Mining Waste Directive determines the
of exposure, storage and management of mining by
risk mitigation
in the member nation.

WWF ( World Wide Fund for Nature )
claimed requirements as determining of areas that not suitable for mining , management of hazardous solids and storage- landfill, transportation of products, public participatory .
Semin Erdem
Burak Belli
Gülsu Gelgün
N. Ceren Turga
Thank you...
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