Mission Report

UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit Mission Report – 2000 Romania Dam Break

This mission report details the activities of a team deployed by the UN Environment/OCHA Joint Unit following a cyanide spill in Romania.

On 30 January 2000, following a breach in the tailing dam of the Aurul SA Baia Mare Company, a major spill of cyanide-rich tailings waste was released into the river system near Baia Mare in north west Romania. The contaminant traveled via tributaries into the river Somes, Tisza and finally into the Danube before reaching the Black Sea. Following requests from the governments of Hungary, Romania and the Federal Republic of Yugoslavia (FRY), and consultations with the European Environment Commissioner, the JEU deployed a team of international experts to carry out a scientific analysis of the environmental damage caused by the spill.

This was an obvious environmental emergency with little humanitarian need; however, dealing with it was complicated by land-ownership issues says Rudolph M_ller, then Deputy Director of OCHAؙs Coordination and Response Division. The case gave the JEU high visibility and this was the key to coordination among the different stakeholders.

Consult the report here.

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