Romania steps up security measures amid protests

Romania has stepped up security measures amid massive protest rallies against a controversial Canadian gold mine project in a Carpathian town and plans by an American energy corporation to explore for shale gas in eastern part of the European country.

On Monday, the Romanian government urged the country’s police to beef up security measures across the country amid “unauthorized” street protests.

On the same day, Romanian Interior Minister Radu Stroe warned that “The organizers of the protests need to understand they have to observe the law, willy-nilly.”

On Sunday night, Romanians held a demonstration near the University Square in the capital Bucharest to criticize a Canadian firm’s plan to mine gold in the town of Rosia Montana by using cyanide in its extraction process.

On Saturday, nearly 1,000 people rallied in the northeastern village of Pungesti, located 340 kilometers (211 miles) northeast of the capital, to protest shale gas extraction in their village.

Although US oil giant Chevron suspended shale gas exploration for fear of prolonged protests, the villagers demonstrated chanting slogans such as “Chevron, go home” and “We say no to shale gas.”

“We have won a battle but not the final victory. I want my seven great-grand-children to grow up in a safe environment,” said an 88-year-old protester during the rally.

“I am against shale gas exploitation because of the chemicals used in fracking. I don’t think the company and Romanian officials are thinking about what could happen to people who live here,” said another protester.

Local environmentalists have expressed concern over the use of hydraulic fracturing technique, commonly known as fracking, in gas and oil exploration.

The technique involves pumping water and chemicals at high pressure into deep rock formations to free oil and gas.

Environmentalists say the process could contaminate ground water supplies. But Chevron has permits to explore for shale gas in Pungesti, two other villages, and on Romania’s Black Sea coast.