Baia Mare is a municipality in the northwestern part of Romania. It is the seat of Maramureş County. 137,921 people were living in Baia Mare as of 2002.
Cyanide Spill of 2000: An hour before midnight on January 30, 2000, a dam holding back water in a settling area for the Baia Mare gold mine burst, spilling its contents into the Somes river, and subsequently into the Tisza river. The spill resulted in the release of at least 100,000 cubic meters of water containing high concentrations of cyanide, as well as heavy metals such as copper, zinc and lead. Cyanide is used to purify gold from rocks, and the water contained concentrations that exceeded the 'heavily polluted' threshold by 40 to 160 times. Zinc concentration was twice the acceptable standard, and lead concentration was 5 to 9 times greater.Rumanian authorities were quickly notified of the spill and immediately raised an alarm that prevented the loss of any human life. However, the spill killed all aquatic plant and animal life for dozens of miles downstream. On February 12, the toxic water flowed into the Danube, which receives water from the Tisza, carrying its impact into Hungary and Serbia, as well. Inhabitants of Belgrade witnessed a Danube with dead fish floating on the surface. Up to 100 people, most of them children, were treated after eating fish contaminated by the heavy chemicals. The Rumanian media entitled this environmental disaster ‘the largest since Chernobyl’.
Baia Mare has the following towns as its 'sister cities':
- Serino, Italy, since 2003
- Nyíregyháza, Hungary, since 2003 - partnership only
- Hódmezovásárhely, Hungary, since 2001
- Bielsko-Biała, Poland, since 2001
- Hollywood, Florida, USA, since 2001
- Wels, Austria, since 2000
- Ivano-Frankivsk, Ukraine, since 1990
- Szolnok, Hungary, since 1990
- Kitwe, Zambia, since 1972