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Incident, Accident, Catastrophe: The Baia Mare Cyanide Spill

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Abstract:

It was called the worst disaster since Cernobyl. In January 2000, a retaining wall failed at the Aurul gold processing plant in Romania, releasing a wave of cyanide and heavy metals that would moved quickly from one river to the next through Romania, Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria, killing fish and other wildlife and poisoning drinking water. This paper traces the accident and its consequences, examining how the spill and responses to it emerged from circumstances at the global, local, and proximate levels. I offer a sociological analysis of the accident itself and the way it was framed and interpreted.
While the spill itself is the focal point of the accident, the emergency responses surrounding it and the dissemination of contaminants and publicity that followed it are indispensable elements. The spill at Baia Mare suggests that disasters are produced not only by their actual occurrence, but also by the flow of information about them. This spill was a “disaster” primarily because it was captured by the media and portrayed as such. Other spills causing similar environmental damage are not “disasters” simply because they are not publicized. I offer a framework for understanding how the spill was interpreted as an incident, an accident, and a catastrophe.

Most Common Document Word Stems:

2000 (78), spill (60), accid (50), cyanid (48), mine (38), romania (37), water (36), aurul (33), romanian (29), report (26), februari (24), mare (24), dam (23), level (23), baia (23), contamin (23), hungarian (22), environment (22), local (19), use (18), hungari (18),

Author's Keywords:

cyanide, Eastern Europe, accident, catastrophe, environment, pollution, reporting, normalized risk
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Association:
Name: American Sociological Association
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http://www.asanet.org


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MLA Citation:

Argeseanu, Solveig. "Incident, Accident, Catastrophe: The Baia Mare Cyanide Spill" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA,, Aug 14, 2004 <Not Available>. 2009-05-26 <http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p109181_index.html>

APA Citation:

Argeseanu, S. , 2004-08-14 "Incident, Accident, Catastrophe: The Baia Mare Cyanide Spill" Paper presented at the annual meeting of the American Sociological Association, Hilton San Francisco & Renaissance Parc 55 Hotel, San Francisco, CA, Online <.PDF>. 2009-05-26 from http://www.allacademic.com/meta/p109181_index.html

Publication Type: Conference Paper/Unpublished Manuscript
Review Method: Peer Reviewed
Abstract: It was called the worst disaster since Cernobyl. In January 2000, a retaining wall failed at the Aurul gold processing plant in Romania, releasing a wave of cyanide and heavy metals that would moved quickly from one river to the next through Romania, Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria, killing fish and other wildlife and poisoning drinking water. This paper traces the accident and its consequences, examining how the spill and responses to it emerged from circumstances at the global, local, and proximate levels. I offer a sociological analysis of the accident itself and the way it was framed and interpreted.
While the spill itself is the focal point of the accident, the emergency responses surrounding it and the dissemination of contaminants and publicity that followed it are indispensable elements. The spill at Baia Mare suggests that disasters are produced not only by their actual occurrence, but also by the flow of information about them. This spill was a “disaster” primarily because it was captured by the media and portrayed as such. Other spills causing similar environmental damage are not “disasters” simply because they are not publicized. I offer a framework for understanding how the spill was interpreted as an incident, an accident, and a catastrophe.

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Document Type: .PDF
Page count: 22
Word count: 6121
Text sample:
It was called the worst disaster since Cernobyl. A wave of cyanide and heavy metals spilled from a gold processing plant in Romania and moved quickly from one river to the next through Romania Hungary Serbia and Bulgaria killing tens of thousands of fish and other wildlife and poisoning drinking water. In many ways this is a simple story: a failed retaining wall. In other ways it is complicated: a story of changing global systems new technology power relations
DATE EVENT 23 February – Wednesday - UN experts investigate the spill in response to a formal request from the three affected 6 March Monday countries 24 February Thursday Permanent Veterinary Committee of the European Commission takes decision not to place restrictions on Romanian animal products 25 February Friday EU creates task force to asses the environmental damage Contaminated plume reaches Danube Delta in Romania from where it spills into Black Sea 11 March Saturday Unrelated spill of heavy


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