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Incident, Accident, Catastrophe: The Baia Mare Cyanide Spill
Unformatted Document Text:  Sea. “Some 2000 km of the Danube catchment area were affected by this spill” (UNEP 2000). Emergency Response The Environmental Protection Agency of Baia Mare was notified a half hour after the breach and all plant operations were seized an hour after the breach. Hypochlorite was poured into the spill in an attempt to neutralize the cyanide by turning it into less toxic compounds (Moran 2002) and the water remaining in the containment pool was diverted into a nearby tailing dam (UNEP 2000). Sediments from other tailing deposits “were used to seal the breach”, which was partially closed within a few hours, and to reinforce other parts of the dam (UNEP 2000: 16). A limited outflow of 40-50 liters per second continued and was treated with hypochlorite until February 2. (Raduly 2000). The local environmental protection agency notified national authorities who then issued official warnings to Hungarian authorities. Some of the notification procedures were not executed promptly, probably in part because the accident occurred on a weekend night. Aurul received its only fine for the accident, about $150, for delays in reporting the accident to the authorities. However, the UN inspection found that it was not Aurul, but the local EPA that delayed warnings. Was Aurul fined for a mistake it had not done, while being let off the hook for its major errors? Spreading Poisons and Media Wars The Story Emerges The accident emerged in the Romanian national media on February 2. Newspapers announced the details of the spill and reported cyanide at 400 times the normal levels (Bura and Teremtus 2000, for example). Fifteen wells were found to be contaminated, and residents were provided

Authors: Argeseanu, Solveig.
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Sea. “Some 2000 km of the Danube catchment area were affected by this spill” (UNEP 2000).
Emergency Response
The Environmental Protection Agency of Baia Mare was notified a half hour after the breach and
all plant operations were seized an hour after the breach. Hypochlorite was poured into the spill
in an attempt to neutralize the cyanide by turning it into less toxic compounds (Moran 2002) and
the water remaining in the containment pool was diverted into a nearby tailing dam (UNEP
2000). Sediments from other tailing deposits “were used to seal the breach”, which was partially
closed within a few hours, and to reinforce other parts of the dam (UNEP 2000: 16). A limited
outflow of 40-50 liters per second continued and was treated with hypochlorite until February 2.
(Raduly 2000).
The local environmental protection agency notified national authorities who then issued
official warnings to Hungarian authorities. Some of the notification procedures were not
executed promptly, probably in part because the accident occurred on a weekend night. Aurul
received its only fine for the accident, about $150, for delays in reporting the accident to the
authorities. However, the UN inspection found that it was not Aurul, but the local EPA that
delayed warnings. Was Aurul fined for a mistake it had not done, while being let off the hook
for its major errors?
Spreading Poisons and Media Wars
The Story Emerges
The accident emerged in the Romanian national media on February 2. Newspapers announced
the details of the spill and reported cyanide at 400 times the normal levels (Bura and Teremtus
2000, for example). Fifteen wells were found to be contaminated, and residents were provided


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