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The 2000's
Caring for Earth
Cyanide Polluted Danube River



Cyanide Polluted Danube River
Reading Level
     edHelper's suggested reading level:   grades 5 to 8
     Flesch-Kincaid grade level:   9.23

Vocabulary
     challenging words:    cyanide-laced, ecotoxicologists, much-needed, slurry, happening, investigation, microscopic, cubic, original, lessen, provided, estimate, cyanide, far-reaching, unemployment, breach
     content words:    Aural Mine Tailings Recovery Plant, Baia Mare, Mine Tailings Recovery Plant, Tisza River, Danube River, Black Sea, United Nations


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Cyanide Polluted Danube River
By Sharon Fabian
  

1     A spill at the Aural Mine Tailings Recovery Plant in the city of Baia Mare, Romania, had far-reaching environmental impacts. The area around Baia Mare is rich in gold, silver, copper, and other metals, and it has a long mining history.
 
2     The Aural Mine Tailings Recovery Plant processed mining wastes and recovered additional gold that was not extracted in the original mining. The company provided much-needed jobs for this area which had high unemployment.
 
3     The process they used began with mixing mining wastes, known as tailings, with water in a pond. This formed a slurry that was fluid enough to be pumped to a processing plant. There, cyanide, the poisonous chemical used to extract the gold, was added to the mixture. High concentrations of cyanide were needed for the process. The gold was extracted, and then the slurry, including the poisonous cyanide, was pumped into a second pond lined with plastic that was not supposed to allow any overflow.
 
4     The presence of this pond containing its soup of deadly chemicals provided a constant threat of an environmental disaster for this region in Romania.
 
5     On January 30, 2000, that threat became a reality. A worker reported that the pond had broken through its banks. The managers at the plant shut down the operation. They notified the authorities, and they attempted to repair the breach in the wall of the holding pond.

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