Barely another day, and another failure of a tailings dam. And a slew of denials and lies from those responsible. Here is part of the longest report I can find on the incident:
A crisis desk was established in the province following the collapse of the dam’s embankment on Saturday. The governor’s office has announced that nearby villages could be evacuated. The facility, owned by the Eti Silver Corporation, reportedly contains 15 million cubic meters of cyanide. It is located 34 kilometers from the provincial capital, near the village of Gümüş.
“We are calling for urgent measures,” said Mustafa Satılmış, the Kütahya representative of the Turkish Foundation for Reforestation, Protection of Natural Habitats and Combating Soil Erosion (TEMA). “If not, it is certain that we’ll be faced with an environmental disaster that will cause irreparable damage.” He said TEMA had grave concerns about the situation. “The amount of disinformation [on a possible cyanide leak in Kütahya] is enormous. We expect officials to make a satisfactory statement on this. We feel that not making statements on the issue won’t get us anywhere.”
Company workers continued work started on Saturday to prevent the cyanide from flowing into the first stage of the dam, from where it could leak outside, while work was also under way to strengthen the embankments.The collapse of a tailings dam at an Eti Silver Corporation facility has led to serious concern among environmentalists and officials. The facility has stopped production and its workers are now trying to prevent a cyanide leak that could have disastrous effects on the environment.
Satılmış said although TEMA had been unable to acquire official information from technical professionals, they had been able to ascertain that a “severe risk” had formed in the tailing dam’s stages. “The embankment between the second and third stages collapsed, and now the entire burden is on the third stage. Immediate action is needed.”
Understandably, locals are not convinced; they are concerned. Who would not be concerned when you read the following bland assurances by officials:
Speaking to reporters, the mukhtar (village head) of Köprüören said he fears the cyanide may flow into the first stage of the dam, from where it could leak outside. He said the village of Köprüören would be affected the most in the event of a cyanide release.
Kütahya Governor Kenan Çiftçi, on the other hand, announced on Tuesday that there is currently no risk of cyanide release. “There is currently no risk of any threat to locals. This incident is completely under control,” he said.
In a press conference he called in his office, the governor said he had two meetings with Environment and Forestry Minister Veysel Eroğlu and took all necessary precautions. He said the company has stopped production and that the embankments have been strengthened to prevent any release of cyanide. He added that a team of experts has been following the situation around the clock.
Environmental groups warn that a possible leak would lead to a disaster much worse than a spill of industrial waste in October at an aluminum plant in western Hungary.
From these brief reports and denials, all we can glean it that an intermediate dike has failed and all the tailings are now held back by the outer perimeter dike. Thus this may be a nothing event. Except recall that Merrispruit failed when an intermediate berm failed and put all the pressure on the outer perimeter facilities.
The environmentalists are focussing on the cyanide. Maybe an issue, but first I would fear for the release of fluid and solids that could inundate villages and villagers. It is one thing to drown in tailings; cyanide is trivial in its impact by comparison with a watery death.
Witness the following:
Immediate measures are needed to avert what could be an environmental disaster in Kütahya, where the collapse of a tailings dam in a silver mining and refining facility has led to concern, according to environmentalists and scientists who continued to issue warnings on Monday.
No doubt these folk who re warning are branded tree-huggers, socialists, liberals, and anti-mining. It is so much easier to accuse the innocent than to act to deal with the horror-results of unbridled irresponsibility.