In the village of Crucea, Suceava County, 300 people chose to live less than the others in exchange for a meager 300 euros a month, reads Adevarul newspaper, in an effort to depict the drama of these desperate people who blocked themselves in the only operating uranium mine in Romania, in sign of protest for their measly wages.
„He got out of the mine and crumbled and then he died slowly. It was the uranium written all over it,” says Verginia Dobrovolschi every time she talks about her husband.
Her story is the same for hundreds of families in the area Stulpicani, Ostra, Crucea, Brosteni in Suceava County. There are people who descended 300 m under the ground to extract the uranium necessary for the Nuclear Power Plant at Cernavoda to operate, and some of these people paid too high a price for the bread they earned by the sweat of their brow.
Till a few years back the miners at least used to get a motivating salary package. For four years however, the miners’ salaries froze and the tension got stronger in time. The bubble burst this week, when the miners could not take the humiliation of meager wages anymore and blocked themselves under ground.
„We have not seen a single dime increase to our wages. We used to get 17 or 18 million lei then and now we get 10 to 12 million lei (ROL, old Romanian lei). This is not a miner’s life, it is a disgrace,” says Gavril Dumbrava.
His wife Doina talks about him saying that „he sweats more often, his heart aches, his lungs ache and all these come from the mine, it cannot come from somewhere else.”
As if their wages were not enough, the pitmen from the uranium mines say they face other issues as well. Ioan Gogus, 44 years old, miner for half a lifetime, complained that the leaders of the National Uranium Company stopped giving them treatment tickets to go to health spas. „They gave the tickets to policemen and we have to go with our own money. Where should we get it as our wages are smaller and smaller,” said Gogus.
The man said that he had a health issue and had to travel to a hospital in Ardea and the doctors there put him apart immediately they found out he works in the uranium mines.
Other fellow-miners remembered that the fear of contamination with radioactive radiations is so big outside, that they had the most unpleasant surprise to be requested to get off some means of transport due to the same reason, uranium.
Present in Suceava to talk to the strikers, the directors at the National Uranium Company (CNU) admitted that the miners are right but that „the wages are small, that is life. We are those who understand best the situation because we have been working for 30 years in the system but we live in Romania and we must adapt to the economic conditions in our country. We have a product we sell and we must confine to what we got,” said Nicu Popa, CNU general director.
The mine at Crucea has a special regime, being an area with a national strategic importance!
The uranium employed by Romania is naturally enriched and can reach from 0.07 percent to about 3 to 4 percent. After being extracted from the mine at Crucea, it is carried at Feldioara plant, where uranium dioxide is obtained which is a nuclear fuel. It is carried to the Pitesti plant, where it is introduced in special recipients and carried to Cernavoda, to operate the reactors.
As the Nuclear Power Plant in Cernavoda is fuelled five times a week, the extraction, processing and „wrapping” of uranium is a process that cannot be delayed, nor interrupted.