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Romanians protest over proposed Shale, Gold Mine

Staff Reporter | 6:42 AM | ||
Thousands of Romanians protested on Saturday against plans by U.S. energy group Chevron to explore for shale gas in a poor eastern region and a Canadian company's project to set up Europe's biggest open cast gold mine in a Carpathian town.
Plans by the leftist government of Prime Minister Victor Ponta to approve the tapping of natural resources in the European Union's second-poorest state have triggered nationwide protests since the start of September, throwing together local communities, environmentalists, civic rights groups and the clergy.
On Thursday, Chevron suspended work on what was to be its first exploration well in the small town of Pungesti in Vaslui county, 340 km (210 miles) northeast of the capital Bucharest, after locals blocked access to the site.
But the people of Pungesti, most of whom live off subsistence farming in one of Europe's poorest regions, have continued protesting, asking officials to revoke drilling plans.
On Saturday, more than 800 locals, priests and activists gathered in front of the empty lot where Chevron plans to install the well. A group of horse riders clad in national costumes then destroyed a cardboard model of an oil well.