Bay to acre dam failure

in Baia Mare in Romania occurred in the evening 30. January 2000 a dam failure of a settling plant, which a heavy environment disaster had as a consequence.

Table of contents

the dam failure

after heavy rainfalls broke to 30. January 2000 probably against 23 o'clock in the city Baia Mare in northwest Romania the dam Golderz - of a dressing plant. the adjacent area flooded and arrived 100,000 m ³, after other information at least 300,000 m ³ with heavy metals shifted sodium cyanide caustic solution over the Sasar brook and the rivers Lapus and Somes (Hungarian Szamos) into the Theiss and into the Danube. In the afternoon of the 1. February 2000 reached with approx. Pollutant wave the border loaded 100 tons cyanide to Hungary. After two weeks it flowed into the Danube. To 28. February 2000, after four weeks, arrived it after altogether 2000 km flow distance in the Danube delta with Tulcea at Romania.

Only to 2. February 2000 was closed the breach in the dam.

data of the water retaining structure

  • maximum storage volume: 1,6 millions m ³
  • surface: 94 hectars
  • of dam length: 4000 m


an enormous fishing inheriting was the consequence. More than 1,400 tons fish were killed. It was the largest environment disaster of Eastern Europe since the reactor accident 1986 in Tschernobyl and had serious consequences for the environment in Romania. The basis of existence of some hundreds Fischer along the Theiss in Hungary was destroyed. In some Hungarian cities the potable water supply was interrupted for several days. In Romania the poison also ran off Water ditches into the village Bozenta Mare and poisoned drinking water and ground which was because of the dam. As counter measure immediately sodium hypochlorite was applied, in order to destroy the Zyanidverbindung.


the causes of the accident were a mixture of constructional defects, mangelner control, insufficient risk management and extreme Weather conditions. After searches of the commission of inquiry a local hydraulic shear failure probably caused in Transfer of the dam, on which 25 m a broad and approx. developed for 2.5 m deep breach. So it could to an uncontrolled breakcome, there it no permanent security checks over the pipings, deposits and the sediment basin gave. The exact time and the quantity of water actually flowed out could become only estimated, since there were no permanent measurements.


so far well-known, becomes the sodium cyanide particularly by UV - jets much fast diminished, so that usually no continuous contamination remains. The safety precautions during the gold preparation in Baia Mare were in the meantime improved. An additional catchment basin was built. Those Pipings and the dam are committed now and checked every two hours, so that leakages can be rapidly recognized and repaired. Those In addition cyanide concentration is regularly measured.

The plant was to 51 per cent in the possession of the Australian company Aurul/Esmeralda and to 49 per cent in the possession of the Romanian state State of Remin.


  • THREE YEARS AFTER BAIA MARE a second consideration of the largest water pollution of Europe von Dipl.Ing.Dr. Karl guard
  • Tailing Dams, Risk OF Dangerous Occurrences, Lessons learnt from practical experiences. Bulletin 121, UNEP, 2001, Paris
  • APELL for Mining, GUI thanks for the Mining Industry in Raising Awareness and Preparedness for Emergencies RK local level, Technical report No. 41, UNEP, 2001, of Paris
  • cyanide ID accident in Baia Mare, Romania, IAD, Limnological of report, volume 33, Proceedings 33rd Conference, Osijek, Croatia 2000
  • gold fever, Baia Mare. A restaurant inspection two after year the Zyanidkatastrophe. Greenpeace ACT, December 2001 - February 2002.

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see also: Dam disasters


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