Romania claims Tisza river metal pollution safe

BUCHAREST, Mar 13, 2000 -- (Reuters) Romania's environmental ministry on Sunday said the level of heavy metal pollution in the Tisza river was well below European Union standards, just three days after a fresh toxic flood alert.

The latest measurements taken in the tributary to the Danube showed a concentration of copper of 0.0021 milligrams per litre (mg/l) compared to the 0.05 mg/l allowed by European law, a ministry statement said.

The levels of iron were about eight times below the EU ceiling of 2 mg/l, while zinc registered at 0.044 mg/l compared to the EU's maximum of 5 mg/l, the statement said.

The Tisza river crosses Romania, Ukraine, Hungary and Yugoslavia before flowing into the Danube.

Heavy rain and melting snow sparked a new toxic flood alert Friday in Baia Mare, Romania, the scene of a serious cyanide leak which poisoned hundreds of tonnes of Danube fish last month.

Officials in neighbouring Hungary said some 20,000 tons of mud laced with heavy metals had begun to flow from a reservoir in a mine complex, and that it was expected to follow the same route as the last spill into the Tisza.

Romanian officials insisted that much of the mud would not reach the river.

A Romanian gold mine in late January spilled some 100,000 cubic metres of cyanide-tainted water into the Somes which leads into the Tisza.

Meanwhile, Germany's deputy environment minister Gisela Altmann arrived in Romania on Sunday at the start of a tour of the two mines behind the pollution.

She met Romania's Environment Minister Romica Tomescu and offered Germany's help, both short and long term, in resolving Romania's environmental problems.

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