Kütahya on alert against cyanide release after collapse of tailings dam

Kütahya on alert against cyanide release after collapse of tailings dam

May 09, 2011, Monday/ 10:04:00/ TODAYSZAMAN.COM WITH WIRES

The collapse of one of the embankments of a tailings dam in a silver mining and refining facility in the western province of Kütahya has led to panic, with authorities taking measures to prevent any cyanide from leaking into nearby agricultural fields, the Anatolia news agency has reported.

A crisis desk was established in the province following the collapse of the dam's embankment on Saturday, with experts now examining the magnitude of the threat.

The facility, owned by the Eti Silver Corporation, reportedly contains 15 million cubic meters of cyanide. Some 250 people from the villages of Aliköy, Dulkadir, Gümüş, Kızılcakaya and Köprüören gathered in front of the facility on Sunday to call on officials to step up measures against a possible leak and said all animals and plants in the region would be destroyed if the cyanide spreads into agricultural fields.

Company workers are trying to prevent the cyanide from flowing into the first stage of the dam, from where it could leak outside, while work is also under way to strengthen the embankments.

The facility is located 34 kilometers from the provincial capital, near the village of Gümüş.

Environmental groups warn that a possible leak would lead to a disaster much worse than a spill of industrial waste in October at an aluminum plant in western Hungary.

One million cubic meters of toxic red sludge flowed from a burst reservoir of an aluminum plant on Oct. 4 in Ajka, Hungary, approximately 160 kilometers west of Budapest. Nine people died and another 120 were injured. Hundreds of people were evacuated from the area.

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