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Hungary to Invoke Espoo Convention
towards Romania in Response to Proposed
From: CEE Bankwatch Network
Monday, August 12, 2002
The Hungarian Ministry for Environment and Water Management today responded
to a request by a group of Hungarian NGOs to activate the Espoo
Environmental Impact Assessment in a Transboundary Context in connection
the proposed open cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania.
The request had been made by Hungarian groups belonging to
the CEE Bankwatch Network, plus Friends of the Earth Hungary and 17 other
The Ministry confirmed today that it has started the procedures of the
convention, which both countries have ratified.
On August 2, 2002 twenty Hungarian NGOs sent a letter to the Hungarian
Ministry for Environment and Water Management expressing their concern
regarding the proposed open-cast gold mine in Rosia Montana, Romania.
The mine ? planned to be the biggest in Europe ? would require
the partial destruction of a village and the involuntary resettlement of
some 2000 people, and would create a long-lasting toxic legacy of 250
million tonnes of tailings sludge containing heavy metals and
cyanide compounds, confined in a 600-hectare lake behind a 180-meter
The mining activities would pose a danger not only to the
local population but could threaten the entire region. The tragic impact of
mine disasters was illustrated by the January 2000 dam
failure at the Baia Mare tailings reprocessing facility in
Romania, when a spill of 100.000 cubic meters of tailing sludge eradicated
a significant portion of all life in the Tisza and Danube
river system for more that 500 kilometers in Romania, Hungary and Serbia.
The NGOs expressed their concerns that the proposed mine could pose similar
threats and asked the Hungarian Ministry for Environment and Water
to activate the Espoo Convention on Environmental Impact Assessment in a
Transboundary Context. The NGOs argued that three types of activities
covered by the convention apply in this situation:
- Large dams and reservoirs.
- Waste-disposal installations for the incineration, chemical treatment or
landfill of toxic and dangerous wastes.
- Major mining, on-site extraction and processing of metal ores or coal.
The NGOs also expressed their concern that the mining company, Gabriel
Resources, would not be able to pay compensation for any possible damage
by an accident and mine ownership by a chain of off-shore companies would
also weaken the possibility of such compensation.
Today's response by Attila Kemeny, State Secretary in the Hungarian
Ministry for Environment and Water Management, confirmed that the
ministry will get in touch with their Romanian
counterparts and that the initial request for information has been made,
which is the first step in activating the procedures of the Espoo
More on Rosia Montana and the struggle against the planned mine:
www.rosiamontana.org Text of Espoo convention:
For more information, contact:
CEE Bankwatch Network
(+36) 30 4365122
Web site: http://www.bankwatch.org