|BUCHAREST - Romanian environmental officials on Sunday investigated a spill of toxic heavy metals into a river in the north of the country that has reportedly caused neighboring Ukraine to cut water supplies to five towns.|
"A faulty hydro-transport pipeline at the Baia Borsa gold mine in Romania had broken and started to spread sludge containing zinc, lead and copper into the Cisla river," an official from the regional environment authority told Reuters.
The spill occurred in northern Romania, some 60 miles from the border with Ukraine, Romania's Environment Ministry said. Cisla is a tributary of the Viseu river, which flows into the Tisa river which flows into Ukraine and then into Hungary.
The incident, which occurred at midnight on Saturday, is being investigated by a commission of experts, the regional official said.
"We moved quickly and managed to pump 80 cubic meters of polluted water off the (Cisla) river and the situation was under control ... we found no dead fish," the official said, adding that the spill did not spread into Viseu or the Tisa river.
"We notified environment authorities from Ukraine and Hungary in due course," the official said.
BBC quoted a report by Ukrainian television TV 5 Kanal as saying water supplies have been cut off in five towns and villages in the Ukrainian Transcarpathian Region.
It said hospitals were advised to store drinking water to last for three days and residents were asked not to fish for the time being.
Four years ago, the mining town of Baia Mare, near the border with Hungary, was the site of an ecological disaster after a dam at a local gold smelter collapsed and spilled lethal cyanide and heavy metals into the Danube river.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE