Hungary Faces Deluge of Toxic Red Sludge
In what is being called the worst ecological/chemical disaster in Hungarian history, rivers of toxic red sludge are pouring like tidal waves into at least three counties in Hungary.
The sludge is actually chemical waste that burst from a reservoir at an alumina plant. Alumina contains heavy metals and is a waste product in aluminum production, and exposure to it can be deadly. It is believed that heavy rains in the region are what lead to this horrific disaster.
A State of Emergency has been declared, as at least 4 people have been killed thus far, 120 seriously injured, and at least 6 are missing. It is believed that the missing may have drowned, although it is also possible that exposure to the chemical could have burned them to death. One witness told the Associated Press that contact with the sludge burned his uncle “to the bone”.
Environmental Affairs State Secretary Zoltan Illes, about about 35.3 million cubic feet (1 million cubic meters) of sludge has leaked so far, affecting an estimated 15.4 square miles (40 square kilometers). It is feared that this torrent may reach the beloved Danube River.
More hintsA Hungarian woman cries in front of her toxic mud flooded home in the town of Devecser, Hungary, Tuesday, Oct. 5, 2010. Monday’s flooding has affected seven towns near the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant in the town of Ajka, 100 miles (160 kilometers) southwest of Budapest.
Environmentalists are speaking out today, claiming that they’ve been warning officials in Hungary about the dangers of Alumina buildup in the Country. They estimate that in 2003, there was 30 million tons of the sludge in Hungary.
Nearly 500 police officers and soldiers, including six emergency detection teams, have been deployed. Plaster is being poured into the Marcal river in hopes that it will seal the sludge and prohibit further flooding.
Images and quotes courtesy A/P