10 Toxic Towns You Still Can’t Live In
Geamana, Lupsa, Romania
Once a charming rural idyll, Geamana was situated in a deep forested valley in Transylvania’s Carpathian Mountains. Home to around 400 families, their lives were turned upside down in 1977 when Romania’s communist regime, led by Nicolae Ceausescu, decided to exploit the copper reserves of the nearby Rosia Poieni mine on a bewildering scale.
The valley was earmarked as a decantation basin where toxic waste from the copper mine, the biggest in Europe, could flow. Geamana’s inhabitants were promised big payouts from the government, but families are said to have only received a modest patch of land miles away from their home town and very little cash to live on.
Flooding almost all of the village, a horrifying toxic cocktail of heavy metal pollutants seeped into the valley from the late 1970s onwards, including vast quantities of pyrite, which generates highly corrosive sulphuric acid and dissolved iron when exposed to the air, poisoning soil and groundwater for miles around.
Though the clean-up of the valley was one of the pre-conditions outlined in Romania’s Accession Treaty to the European Union, the company that owns the Rosia Poieni mine has done little to detoxify the area and its surroundings.
To this day, the poisonous blood red, orange and turquoise lake makes for a shocking sight and it’s considered one of Europe’s worst ecological disasters.