MAC/20: Mines and Communities

New contamination of Aries

Published by MAC on 2004-08-12

New contamination of Aries

From an original Hungarian source - Jobbik Magyarorszagert Mozgalom

12th August 2004

The contamination of the river Aries, which flows across Toplieni (? - Topanfalva), Baia de Aries, Turda and (Aranyosgyeres), tranquil at draught but fierce when snow melts, has a strange history. Nowadays no-one gets surprised when the water is muddled and yellowish brown. Local people just say negligently "the river is contaminated again" and do not think of the fact that this is the drinking water source of the town, this water they use for watering animals and irrigation.

Experts say, the Aries gets contaminated in two ways: at times of accidents, when pure gift flows in huge quantities into tributary rivulets of Aries from tailing ponds. The other source is continuous contamination, when metals and chemical substances absorbed by the soil get into the river.

In the beginning of August, new contamination of Aries was discovered. It was Marius Masca, chair of the Potaissa Fishers' and Hunters' Association who first realised on the morning of August 5 that the water carries numerous dead fish. He notified local authorities immediately and reported that he found the colour of the water, troubled by heavy rains, very strange; and his fear was confirmed when he found dozens of dead fish after thorougher examination.

When asked about the case in the morning of the day of the spill, the director of the National Water Surveillance Company of Romania, based in Turda, could not give us more details. He said they had also been informed about this and have experts on the ground to assess the scale and causes of the contamination. By the following day, it fortunately turned out that it was no cyanide spill but a large amount of heavy metals got into the river. They figured out that a considerable amount of iron and zinc got into Aries; in a few days, measurings discovered where the contamination came from. It was the tailings pond in the valley of Sesely where the acidic water with heavy metals came from. According to the Hydrotechnical Office in Turda, the new contamination should have happened on the afternoon of August 1, and the reason must have been long-lasting rainfall.

The mining company Cuprumin Abrud Co., owner of the tailings pond does not assume responsibility for the case. Its management claims the recent accident was also due to heavy rains. They say contamination could only be prevented with a large-scale investment, the implementation of which has already started with World Bank financial backing.

Until that time, people living along Aries and hobby anglers can only hope to have nice weather.

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