Dec 28, 2000

Australian Company Blamed for Romanian Cyanide Spill

An Australian mining company has been blamed for a major environmental disaster
that began about 11 days ago in Hungary.

The Hungarian authorities say a cyanide leak from a gold mine in Romania
part-owned by the company, Esmeralda Enterprises, has contaminated waters in the
Tisza and Szamos rivers, killing tons of fish and leaving parts of Hungary
without drinking water. Officials from Hungary and Romania have decided to seek
compensation for the disaster and are setting up a joint committee to evaluate
the extent of the disaster -- which Hungarian officials are calling the worst in
a decade.

Esmeralda Exploration's executives have described the reports as exaggerated and
have blamed the spill on bad weather. They have defended their company's safety
record, insisting they took steps to contain the leak as soon as they became
aware of it. Nonetheless, trading in Esmeralda Exploration's shares has been

SOURCE: BBC News Online