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The towering heap of rubbish at the Pata-Rat landfill in western Romania has been condemned as an "environmental time bomb" but for many of its neighbours, this putrid mountain of refuse is a livelihood—one they want to protect from closure.
Looming on the hills near Romania's fifth-biggest city Cluj-Napoca, the trash heap rises to five storeys high in places, emitting a noxious odour and oozing substances that environmentalists say are poisoning the soil.
Children - Play - Mounds - Debris - Fact
Children play among the mounds of debris. In fact, they live here.
Dozens of families—mostly from the country's Roma minority—have made homes in makeshift shacks on the edge of the landfill site, sometimes after being expelled from illegal dwellings elsewhere.
Environmentalists - Locals - Site - Others - Living
While environmentalists and some locals want the site cleaned up, others depend on it for a living, with whole families subsisting on the income they make from recyclable waste that they pick from the heap with their bare hands.
Linda Zsiga, 37, and her family were relocated to the site by the city authorities in 2010 to live in a container with no sanitation.
Accommodation - Cluj - Activist - Demos - Party
She has since managed to find accommodation elsewhere in Cluj and is now an activist for Demos, a new leftist party.
Zsiga has made the closure of the site and the rehousing of those who live alongside it a key priority.
One - Conditions
"No one should have to live here, in such inhuman conditions," she says.
The European Commission has demanded the closure of Pata-Rat and has set aside funding for new waste disposal systems to eliminate the need for the site.
City - Authorities - Solution
City authorities say they are cooperating although a definitive solution has so far eluded them.
Many inhabitants of Pata-Rat are fearful of losing their meagre livelihood if the site closes.
Claudia - Husband - Years - Part - Site
Claudia and her husband have lived for around 40 years in a part of the site that residents call "Dallas".
With their two children they scrape...
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