A report by the United Nations Environment Programme (UNEP) has blamed poor design and bad weather for the failure of a tailings dam which caused the spill of slurry containing cyanide into the Tisza river from a Romanian gold mine in January this year.

The UNEP report cited ‘a combination of inherent design deficiencies in the industrial processes involved, inadequate operating conditions and bad weather’ as probable causes for the accident at the mine near Baia Mare. The mine’s proprietor, Aurul SA, is owned half by Australia’s Esmeralda Expl- oration, and half by the Romanian government.