Every gain comes at a price, and so the comfort of technology claims its cost at some other end. For nuclear energy – what it gives is known, modern living conditions, heating, illumination, transportation and all in one the civilised world as we know it. Yet what it takes sometimes remains in the shade, like what an environmental mess irresponsible uranium mining can be, and how hard it is to clean that up?
Ciudanovita, in the Caras-Severin county, is one such example. Sadly, it’s a mix of grey Romanian history under Russian occupation, radioactive contamination of a piece of heaven and the struggle for a normal life of those that are still living there.
Under Russian occupation, the Soviets had interest in this area. After the initial prospections in the 1950s, they began uranium ore mining in the 1952, using their own equipment and local workers. This lasted up until 1957 when the SOVROMs were disbanded. Then the Romanians continued the operations until 1964 finalising the country’s debts of war to Russia. All this time, the uranium ore was simply loaded in containers and shipped to the East by train. The mining required signifiant resources, and as a direct result the colony of Ciudanovita grew in population, reaching as high as 35000 people. There was a local hospital, a cinema, restaurants, places with live music and draft beer and many shops.
When one approaches the area today, will first notice the difficult access. The roads are poor, unmaintained. The Geiger counter will sound its alarm in various places while getting closer to the former mines.
The colony is in the immediate vicinity of the mines. The problem is people are living in a valley, and one of the slopes right next of the village is where the ore residue has been deposited. It is obvious this forms a channel for rain water to infiltrate the groundwater, not to mention the strong winds blowing contaminated fine dust over the populated area at only a few hundreds of meters in the valley. The surface readings in the residue area, called “Golgota” are rather high, surpassing 1uSv/h in many places.
Ignorance or neglijence, the mining project cared little about keeping the place clean. Radioactive ore was carelessly loaded in trains, but from the mine to the train station, some of it also padded the roads and the surroundings. Some of that it is still there, throwing invisible ionising radiation to anything in the area.
It was bad enough to see a village in poverty due to its main source of income – mining collapsed. There are so many similar areas in Romania, but for this one in particular, add the dangerous invisible enemy lurking around, for a nightmarish scenario. Those that have their homes there live it everyday. There were some plans to clean the area, but no proper action was taken so far.
Fosta mina de uraniu de la Ciudanovita neecologizata nici acum
Ciudanovita locul din Romania unde radiatiile de uraniu depases de 100 de ori limita de alerta
Moartea poarta numele de Ciudanovita
Marturisiri din Ciudanovita
Very interesting post, I had never heard anything about this town before and even after reading through this I found it difficult to find much information on the internet of the town (at least not in English, which might be a given). Even the the Wikipedia entry is basically empty (which could be language based as well).
I find it surprising that the residents are still residents, and that they don’t try to leave. I understand it could be difficult for a person who has limited resources to get out, but I can’t imagine that they have much more resources living there than if they were to move away? Do they live off the land? Radu, did you happen to talk with any of the residents?
Anyway, thanks for taking time to go there and post some information.
Read your article ,it’s a surprise that people are living in high Radiation zone. have you met any person living in this area? What about the children’s there , do they have any medical care there.?
For places where people live with high background radiation, lookup the city of Ramsar, in Mazandaran Province, Iran.
Was a Model D was used to generate those maps? Very nice.
How is the process coming to get the Model D’s ready to ship?
@Ryan & @Syam personally I didn’t approach the locals, they saw me driving down their main street and were turning their backs looking on the car a bit suspicious. In such a small settlement, everybody knows everybody. I saw kids playing on the main road, there was a school newly renovated. There was also a post office, but in bad shape. Wish I had more time to talk to the people, but the sunset was approaching and my main goal was to do some readings. By the time I finished that it was dark already. I saw some other video materials from that area, and people there were somewhat used to the idea of living there, surrounded by the ore dumps.
@Kurt, yes, it was a modified model D unit, using a higher volume detector. The model D software is ready, now waiting for the factory to finish some plastic bezel that holds the screen in place, before they are ready to ship.
I just checked Ramsar. Amazing. 142uSv/h, about 100 times the highest level I saw in Ciudanovita.