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Roma community living on an industrial site contaminated with mercury, Romania

Roma families have no other place to live but on the former site of a chemicals factory that is contaminated with mercury. The Roma also have no access to basic utilities including water.


In Turda, Roma families have no other place to live but on the former site of a chemicals factory that is contaminated with mercury [1] [3]. This is according to a recent article published by the University of Yale "Mercury, insecticides and other chemicals infiltrate the soil among the factory ruins, threatening public health and groundwater".  [2]

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Basic Data
Name of conflict:Roma community living on an industrial site contaminated with mercury, Romania
Location of conflict:Turda
Accuracy of locationHIGH (Local level)
Source of Conflict
Type of conflict. 1st level:Waste Management
Type of conflict. 2nd level:Landfills, toxic waste treatment, uncontrolled dump sites
Chemical industries
Specific commodities:Industrial waste
Project Details and Actors
Project details

The conflict is due to industrial developments in the past - as early as the first half of the 20th century when heavy industries first settled in the area.

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Type of populationUrban
Affected Population:2000 - 3000 (600 families)
Start of the conflict:01/01/1990
Company names or state enterprises:Solvay
Solvay Group from Belgium
Solvay Group from Belgium
Solvay Group from Belgium
Relevant government actors:Municipality of Turda
Conflict & Mobilization
IntensityLATENT (no visible organising at the moment)
Reaction stageLATENT (no visible resistance)
Groups mobilizing:Ethnically/racially discriminated groups
Environmental ImpactsVisible: Loss of landscape/aesthetic degradation, Soil contamination
Potential: Air pollution, Genetic contamination, Surface water pollution / Decreasing water (physico-chemical, biological) quality, Groundwater pollution or depletion, Biodiversity loss (wildlife, agro-diversity)
Other Environmental impactsSee article of Yale University [2].
Health ImpactsVisible: Accidents, Exposure to unknown or uncertain complex risks (radiation, etc…), Occupational disease and accidents, Other environmental related diseases
Other Health impacts"Mercury, extremely toxic even in small quantities, attacks the nervous system causing visual and cognitive disturbances, abdominal pain, headaches, difficulty breathing and ultimately death". [2]
Socio-economical ImpactsVisible: Lack of work security, labour absenteeism, firings, unemployment, Violations of human rights
Project StatusUnknown
Conflict outcome / response:Repression
Development of alternatives:According to an article from Yale University, the costs of decontaminating the scattered sites with 60,000 tons of lindane by 2007 was estimated to be at $56 million [2]. The site has not been remediated and cleaned up still.
Do you consider this an environmental justice success? Was environmental justice served?:No
Briefly explain:The situation has not been addressed so far.
Sources & Materials
References to published books, academic articles, movies or published documentaries

[1] Determination, speciation and distribution of mercury in soil in the surroundings of a former chlor-alkali plant: assessment of sequential extraction procedure and analytical technique
[click to view]

[2] Environmental Contamination in Romania in Yale Global.
[click to view]

[3] Article on mercury contamination.
[click to view]

Links to general newspaper articles, blogs or other websites

[4] Turda's mayor discusses to turn the abandoned site into a new industrial zone.
[click to view]

Related media links to videos, campaigns, social network

[5] Video about the contamination with Hg spread in the entire city of Turda
[click to view]

Other documents

not sufficient garbage removal services
[click to view]

former factory building former factory building almost falling down, many accidents took place here, once a child died
[click to view]

improvised homes improvised houses in the Roma community, on a surface contaminated with Hg, due to the former chemical factory
[click to view]

low access to garbage disposal services The access to garbage removal services in very limited, you can observe also the buildings of the former chemical plant
[click to view]

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Last update29/10/2019
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