G e a m a n a - mesmerizing death of a village



Geamana was once a peaceful picturesque village in a valley of Romania’s Apuseni Mountains. Today, the village has almost entirely been engulfed in toxic copper waste laced with cyanide and other chemicals from the nearby Rosia Poieni copper mining pit. Only the old church’s tower and a few houses preserve the memory of a village long ago erased from Romania’s official map. Soon enough, the tower and remaining houses will disappear under the toxic sludge, which, once entering rivers, could lead to catastrophic environmental consequences of transnational proportions, as, to this day, Romanian authorities have taken no measures to end the Geamana ecological disaster. The beginning of the end started for Geamana in 1978, when the government of Romanian communist dictator Nicolae Ceasescu forced around 400 household owners to leave their homes, in order to make way for the toxic waste. The communist regime started exploiting the Rosia Poieni mine, containing the biggest copper reserves in Romania with an estimated one billion tons of cope ore, which at that time was also the largest one known in Europe. The surrounding valley became a decantation basin, into which the contaminated waste could flow. Several other villages, apart from Geamana, were wiped out of existence as well. The decantation basin is currently over 130 hectares long, with over 27 million tons of waste deposited over the year. The tailings contain a high quantity of pyrite. When exposed to oxidizing decomposition, it generates sulfuric acid and trivalent iron, which activate the leaching process of all the tailings in the dam. Many toxic substances have already infiltrated the groundwater in the region. The more considerable concern is that, soon enough, the Aries River could be significantly polluted by heavy metal cations and sulfuric acid, wiping out its flora and fauna. As the Aries is the largest of the Mures River’s right-side tributaries, this means that the toxic pollution could continue to spread beyond Romania’s borders, since the latter river flows in Hungary, where it joins the Tisza River. The Tisza flows into the Danube in Serbia, expanding the potential reverberations of the brewing Geamana environmental disaster. ( text source: www.opendemocracy.net) The vast majority of the 1,000 souls who lived in the village before the mining operation started were compensated and agreed to move, but a large number of people also decided to stay. They gradually had to climb higher up the hill to avoid the ever-increasing exploitation effects. They were the ones that suffered most, being eventually forced to leave as well. Today, only a few families( maximum 20 persons) have remained in the area, almost completely isolated from the rest of the world. However, although hardly accessible, the village (or what remains of it) has begun to be visited by a growing number of tourists, interested in the history of the place and the effects of the ore spills. Virtually all that remains of the old Geamăna is the tower of the church, the rest of about 400 houses being underwater. However, because of the waste spilled in the pond, the water has an interesting color, with green and red shades