Processing Magazine

Toxic Sludge Floods Hungary Killing Four

October 6, 2010
Hungary''s top investigative agency opened a criminal probe into the toxic sludge flood, while the European Union and environmental groups warned the disaster could have long-term consequences for countries along the Danube River, according to the Associated Press. Hundreds of people had to be evacuated after a gigantic sludge reservoir burst at a metals plant in Ajka, a town 100 miles southwest of Budapest, the capital. The torrent entered homes, swept cars off roads, damaged bridges and disgorged an estimated 1 million cubic meters of toxic waste onto several nearby towns. At least four people have been killed, three are still missing and 120 have been injured. The huge reservoir is no longer leaking but a triple-tiered protective wall is being built around the reservoir''s damaged area. Interior Minister Sandor Pinter said guards have been posted at the site ready to give early warning in case of any new emergency. Emergency workers and construction crews in hazmat gear were sweeping through the hardest-hit Hungarian towns, straining to clear roads and homes coated by thick red sludge and caustic muddy water. The European Union said it feared the toxic flood could turn into an ecological disaster for half a dozen European nations downriver from Hungary along the Danube.