Toxic red sludge reaches the Danube in Hungary

No immediate damage evident, but EU fears international catastrophe as spill releases torrent into creeks flowing into European river.

By ASSOCIATED PRESS
October 7, 2010 12:34
2 minute read.
Sludge floods Hungary

hungary flood 311. (photo credit: AP)

 
X

Dear Reader,
As you can imagine, more people are reading The Jerusalem Post than ever before. Nevertheless, traditional business models are no longer sustainable and high-quality publications, like ours, are being forced to look for new ways to keep going. Unlike many other news organizations, we have not put up a paywall. We want to keep our journalism open and accessible and be able to keep providing you with news and analyses from the frontlines of Israel, the Middle East and the Jewish World.

As one of our loyal readers, we ask you to be our partner.

For $5 a month you will receive access to the following:

  • A user experience almost completely free of ads
  • Access to our Premium Section
  • Content from the award-winning Jerusalem Report and our monthly magazine to learn Hebrew - Ivrit
  • A brand new ePaper featuring the daily newspaper as it appears in print in Israel

Help us grow and continue telling Israel’s story to the world.

Thank you,

Ronit Hasin-Hochman, CEO, Jerusalem Post Group
Yaakov Katz, Editor-in-Chief

UPGRADE YOUR JPOST EXPERIENCE FOR 5$ PER MONTH Show me later Don't show it again

The toxic red sludge that inundated three Hungarian villages reached Europe's mighty Danube River on Thursday but no immediate damage was evident, Hungary's rescue operations agency said.

The European Union and environmental officials had feared an environmental catastrophe affecting half a dozen nations if the red sludge, a waste product of making aluminum, contaminated Europe's second-longest river after bursting out of a factory's reservoir.

Be the first to know - Join our Facebook page.


RELATED:
Gallery, Video: Hungary sludge flood
At least 4 killed in Hungary sludge spill; 120 injured

The spill Monday released a toxic torrent into local creeks that flow into a network of waterways connected to the Danube. Creeks in Kolontar, the closest town to the spill site, were swollen red and villagers said they were devoid of fish. Kolontar is 42 miles (70 kilometers) south of the Danube.

The red sludge reached the western branch of the Danube early Thursday, Hungarian rescue agency spokesman Tibor Dobson told the state MTI news agency. He did not address concerns that the caustic slurry might contain toxic metals but said its pH content had been reduced to the point where it was unlikely to cause further damage to the environment.

Dobson said the pH content, originally above 12, was now under 10 and no dead fish had been spotted where the slurry was entering the Danube. The National Disaster Management Directorate, in a separate statement, said the pH value was at 9.3 and constantly decreasing.

South of Hungary, the 1,775-mile (2,850-kilometer) Danube flows through Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine and Moldova before emptying into the Black Sea.



After Hungary, the Danube flows into the Croatian village of Batina, where experts were taking water samples Thursday which they will repeat daily for the next week, the state-run news agency HINAS reported.

I
n Romania, water levels were reported safe Thursday, with testing being carried out every three hours, said Romanian Waters spokeswoman Ana Maria Tanase. She said the Danube water had a PH of 8.5, which was within normal levels, but tests were being done to check for heavy metals.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban on Thursday visited the three villages coated by the red sludge and declared the worst-hit area a write-off. Orban said he sees "no sense" in rebuilding in the same location.

Local officials said 34 homes in the village were unlivable. However, furious residents said the disaster had destroyed the whole community by making their land valueless.

Angry villagers gathered outside the mayor's office in Kolontar late Wednesday and berated a senior official of MAL Rt., the Hungarian Aluminum Production and Trade Company that owns the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant, demanding compensation.

"The whole settlement should be bulldozed into the ground," bellowed Janos Potza. "There's no point for anyone to go back home."

"Those who can, will move out of Kolontar. From now on, this is a dead town," fumed Beata Gasko Monek.

Related Content

Rashida Tlaib on interview about Arab-Israeli Conflict (August 13, 2018).
August 17, 2018
J Street cancels endorsement from House candidate for 'one state solution'

By MICHAEL WILNER