Budapest Sun
Tisza gets more pollution

Aug. 3, 2000

In what is fast becoming a monthly trend, the Hungarian Government have once again been informed by Romania that waste has spilled into their river systems and is heading towards Hungary.

This time round the waste has turned the water red, although Romanian officials said it will not affect flora or fauna.

A pipeline carrying industrial waste burst and released 600 cubic meters of polluted water containing low levels of heavy metal into the Lápos River that feeds into the Szamos. Approximately two days after the spill the polluted red water made its way into Hungary.

Gheorghe Lazea, general secretary of Romania's Water Management Ministry, once again found himself lamenting the number of waste spill incidents but said, "It does not endanger the environment."

Pollution-monitoring stations have been set up at the request of Tisza government commissioner János Gönczy, who said the hourly readings had detected no danger.

Gönczy confirmed that the Hungarian Government's demands for Ft29.3 billion ($109 million) in compensation from the Tisza River cyanide disaster were still standing.

He added that Aurul, the company behind the gold smelting plant whose tailing ponds spilled over twice earlier this year, "cannot be summoned before the law, and so responsibility rests with the Romanian state, which did not check the company's environmental protection measures".

Tom Garvey, Chairman of the EU's team of investigators examining the damage from the January spill, told reporters that the group is awaiting a report to be issued in December.

Despite Romania's insistence that the site is now safe, and the Government's agreeing to let the plant re-open, not everyone in Hungary is convinced.

Environment Minister Ferenc Ligetvári has urged a new inspection of the cyanide spill site to clarify the ongoing dispute.

Original article