Keeping Romania Impoverished

Excerpt:  For decades, Nazi and Communist regimes ruled Romania, kept her people impoverished and exploited her resources – tearing vast mineral wealth from her mountains, with little regard for worker safety, people’s health or the environment. When the Soviet Empire collapsed, Romania eagerly embraced a more hopeful future, and embarked on a course to join the European Union.Life has improved for many, especially in cities like Bucharest. But Romania remains one of the E.U.’s poorest nations, and valleys that once echoed with the shouts of workers and roar of heavy equipment are now silent. More than 300,000 miners are jobless. Their villages have descended into squalor, misery and despondency that have no historic parallel. Rosia Montana is one such place. This Transylvanian town hosts a massive open-pit mine, enormous waste dumps and, beneath them, hundreds of tunnels. The legacy of 2000 years of mining – the most damaging of which occurred under Ceaucescu – they leach toxic chemicals into local streams that now are red-orange from cadmium and contain 110 times the E.U.’s legal limit of zinc, 64 times its iron limit, and three times the limit for arsenic, the most dangerous chemical on the U.S. government’s toxic substances list.

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