Someone dropped us a note today here at DroneDJ. They wanted to point us toward an aerial video they had shot. It reveals an environmental catastrophe — a toxic lake — in a beautiful location. It’s well worth a look.

The location is rural Romania, at a village called Geamana. Up until 1978, this was a pretty idyllic place. Nestled in a valley surrounded by hills, it was a quiet agrarian community. The local church was a gathering point. Many lived their entire lives in the village and were buried in its local cemetery. But the discovery of a massive copper deposit nearby would change everything. When the decision was made to begin extracting the copper on a large scale, it was clear that somewhere would be needed to dump a key by-product of mining: a highly toxic sludge.

And the best place for that? Well, that was the village of Geamana.

Move out

The central government, at the time run by a supervillain called Nicolae Ceaucescu (seriously, he really was nasty), ordered the villagers to move. A promise was made to relocate the dead from the cemetery, and to generously compensate the villagers.

Neither of those things happened. While the villagers did receive some compensation, it was a fraction of what they’d been promised. And the dead? Their graves, untouched, were submerged.

The view from above

We received a tip, along with a link to a year-old video. We found the story fascinating, so here you go:

Ughhhhhh. Horrible to see nature poisoned like this…

A few words from the pilot

The pilot, who was also the tipster, is named Reginald Van de Velde. And he clearly found the story behind this “lake” just as troubling as we do.

This used to be a picturesque little village with farms and houses, set in a beautiful green valley. Residents were forced to leave and the area was drowned with toxic residue from a nearby copper mine. Today only the top part of a church protrudes the waste. The mineral-rich slurry reacts with rain and spring water, creating acid & cyanide. This man-made lake is pure poison. 

Reginald Van de Velde

Down the rabbit hole

You know what the internet is like. So of course it wasn’t long before we were reading about the history of this village and looking at a couple of other videos. One of them shows the submerged cemetery, which we found simply desolate and sad. We’ve cued it up:

Finally, there’s this:

This short Radio Free Europe video offers up a little more on the history, and shows some of that awful sludge making its way down to this hell-hole:

Radio Free Europe’s take on the Romanian village…

#DronesForGood

There’s no shortage of gorgeous drone videos. But videos like this, which point out something environmentally concerning, are arguably just as important. Thanks, Reginald, for passing this along — and opening our eyes to something difficult but important to look at.

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