|BUCHAREST - Romania\'s Environment Ministry said yesterday that toxic waste containing cyanide had spilled into a river in the northeast of the country and could pose health hazards and kill fish.|
Cyanhydric acetone, used in production of detergents, leaked from a storage tank at the Metadet chemical plant in Falticeni, 500 km (300 miles) north of Bucharest, into Somuzul Mare, a tributary of the Siret river which flows into the Danube.
The plant has been out of operation since 2000 but still houses tanks storing chemicals. \"We estimate that 10 tons of toxic substances leaked into the river,\" Ioan Jelev of the ministry told Reuters. He said that several tonnes had already been drained out of the river.
A team of experts was monitoring for possible spread of the cyanide into the Siret river, taking samples to determine the concentration of cyanide on a stretch of 40 Km downstream from the plant.
The ministry official said the police was investigating the causes of the incident.
\"Samples of water taken from various areas of the Somuzul Mare showed that the river has been polluted around the plant,\" Jelev said.
Preliminary data show a concentration of about 3.0 milligrams per litre, this compared with the European Union\'s admitted levels of 0.005 milligrams.
A similar incident occurred in 2001 in the same place, poisoning fish. The ministry advised local residents not to use water from the river or wells or eat fish from the river.
REUTERS NEWS SERVICE