Copşa Mică‪ – One of the Most Polluted Cities in Europe‬

Copşa Mică‪ - One of the Most Polluted Cities in Europe‬

The Copşa Mică works were two factories in the Transylvanian town of Copşa Mică, Sibiu County, Romania.

The two were the town’s principal employers, but combined, they made it among the most polluted places in Eastern Europe. Soot from Carbosin encased Copşa Mică in a black covering, while metals from Sometra suffused the air, water and soil, leading to serious health effects on surrounding residents, vegetation and wildlife.

By the early 1990s, Copşa Mică was among the most polluted towns in Eastern Europe. Over 60 years of unrestricted emissions led to lower air quality, surface water contamination, soil pollution, contaminated plant products and health risks to farm animals and human inhabitants. Until operations were suspended, Sometra remained the area’s chief polluter, its emissions of sulfur dioxide and dust affecting all aspects of the environment.

A March 1990 New York Times report describes the town: “For about 15 miles around, every growing thing in this once-gentle valley looks as if it has been dipped in ink. Trees and bushes are black; the grass is stained. The houses and streets look like the inside of a chimney. Even the sheep on the hillsides are a dingy gray.” Horses could only live there for two years, and the only animal life in the immediate area were wildfowl, the meat of which was inedible from the toxins.

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