Cry Me a River
A massive cyanide spill that has spread through rivers in Romania, Hungary, and Yugoslavia is being billed as the worst environmental catastrophe since Chernobyl. The Jan. 30 spill from a Romanian gold-mining operation has eradicated virtually all river life on 250 miles of the Tisza River, and has now made its way into the Danube, Europe’s longest river. The contamination is expected to hit Bulgaria this week. The drinking water for some 2 million people is temporarily polluted, food supplies could be contaminated, and an estimated 15,000 fishers may be out of work for years, if not decades. Some 650 tons of dead fish have been hauled from the Tisza, and that figure is expected to double by next week. Hungary and Yugoslavia are demanding compensation for damages, and have threatened to sue. The offending gold mine is partly owned by the Australian mining company Esmerelda, which denies responsibility for the spill and claims damage has been exaggerated.