Vasile and Paul Tătar, father and son, lived near a gold mine in the city of Baia Mare, the site of one of the worst ecological disasters in modern history.
On 30 January 2000, a massive cyanide spill occurred at the mine after a dam burst. The company operating the plant used cyanide in its extraction process.
Poison flooded the waterways of central Europe – from the Tisza to the Danube. Hungary estimated that the leak had killed 1,000 tonnes of fish.
After the accident, the Romanian government issued new environmental permits to the company operating at Baia Mare. It authorised the firm to continue to store chemicals in the reservoir where the dam had been breached.
Vasile Tătar believed that the company’s storage and use of cyanide put the health of local inhabitants at risk. He claimed that his son Paul had developed asthma because of the toxic pollution.
Vasile lodged complaints with the authorities, seeking to have the company’s operating license withdrawn and action taken against the company’s management. His complaints were dismissed.