OT?: Cyanide spill labelled the 'biggest disaster after Chernobyl'

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Cyanide spill labelled the 'biggest disaster after Chernobyl'


THE compensation bill for the Romanian cyanide catastrophe could reach up to $US10 million ($16 million) and Hungary is prepared to take court action against the Australian company involved to get it, the Hungarian Government has warned.

As Hungarian authorities continued to pull tonnes of dead fish out of the contaminated Tisza River, the chairman of the country's parliamentary environment committee, Zoltan Illes, accused Australia's Esmeralda Exploration of a cover up.

Rejecting claims by Esmeralda that its January 30 cyanide spill in Romania could not be linked to fish deaths across the border in Hungary's Tisza, Dr Illes told The Weekend Australian that heavy metal contamination from the accident was now in the food chain and people could be affected for "decades".

Cyanide concentrations were decreasing as the contamination moved downstream, but Yugoslavia, Bulgaria and the Black Sea would ultimately also be affected, he said. Dr Illes, who is also vice-president of Hungary's ruling Civic Party, said it was the region's "biggest disaster after Chernobyl".

Experts estimate the environmental and economic cost could be "up to $US10 million", he said.

Hungary has contacted the Australian embassy in Budapest, requesting information about Esmeralda's shareholders and capital.

Esmeralda has a 50 per cent stake in the Aurul goldmining company, in partnership with the Romanian State Mining Agency. The Aurul plant is 70km from the Hungarian border. Speaking from



-- Carl Jenkins (Somewherepress@aol.com), February 11, 2000


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"Cyanide spill reaches Yugoslav town

Copyright ) 2000 Nando Media Copyright ) 2000 Associated Press

BELGRADE, Yugoslavia (February 11, 2000 12:20 p.m. EST http://www.nandotimes.com)

A cyanide spill that has wiped out fish in Romania and Hungary reached the first town on the Tisa river in northern Yugoslavia on Friday, officials said.

An official in Kanjiza, about 90 miles north of Belgrade, said local authorities have been warning citizens not to eat fish or use the Tisa water for their animals.

"We can feel sort of a bitter-almond smell on the bank and there are a lot of dead fish floating on the surface," of the river, Karolj Puskas told the Beta news agency.

The cyanide spill has caused major ecological damage in Hungary and Romania, where it originated. A dam at the partially Australian-owned Baia Mare gold mine in Romania overflowed Jan. 30, causing cyanide to pour into the Lapus River and then into the Somes.

From there, the polluted water flowed west into neighboring Hungary.

The towns along the river in Yugoslavia have all organized a crisis headquarters to deal with the cyanide spill, which reached the northern tip of the country Thursday. There have been no reports on possible danger of polluting the drinking water in any of the towns.

The cyanide spill adds to the strain in Yugoslavia, which is already believed to have high level of pollution due to NATO bombing last year that targeted oil refineries and factories, and lack of proper ecological care by the country's neo-Communist leadership."

-- Rachel Gibson (rgibson@hotmail.com), February 11, 2000.

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