• baia_mare_photo.jpg
    The Baia Mare cyanide spill in Romania

  • It was called the worst disaster since Cernobyl. In January 2000, a retaining wall failed at the Aurul gold processing plant in Romania, releasing a wave of cyanide and heavy metals that moved quickly from one river to the next through Romania, Hungary, Serbia, and Bulgaria, killing fish and other wildlife and poisoning drinking water. Examining how the spill and responses to it emerged from circumstances at the global, local, and proximate levels. While the spill itself is the focal point of the accident, the emergency responses surrounding it and the cleaning of the contaminants and publicity that followed it are crucial circumstances. The spill at Baia Mare suggests that disasters are produced not only by their actual occurrence, but also by the flow of information about them. This spill was a “disaster” primarily because it was captured by the media and portrayed as such. Other spills causing similar environmental damage are not “disasters” simply because they are not publicized. I offer a framework for understanding how the spill was interpreted as an incident, an accident, and a catastrophe.



Csagoly, Paul . "The Cyanide Spill at Baia Mare, Romania - brochure." The Regional Environmental Center for Central and Eastern Europe. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2011. <http://archive.rec.org/REC/Publications/CyanideSpill/>.

" BBC News | EUROPE | One year on: Romania's cyanide spill." BBC News - Home. N.p., n.d. Web. 15 Feb. 2011. <http://news.bbc.co.uk/2/hi/europe/1146979.stm>.