500,000 cubic meters of red mud waste has been oozing its way across Hungary since October 4th causing the evacuation of the town of Almasfuzito (50 miles north of Budapest) after a corner wall of a waste-retaining pond broke, releasing a torrent of dangerous chemicals down a local stream.
Disaster crews are on the scene and Hungary has declared a state of emergency for the region. The repairs to the dam are nearly complete along with a 600-metre long emergency dam that has been constructed. The MAL Zrt’s plant is said to be responsible for the leak from what Prime Minister Viktor Orban of the Parliament house Budapest, Hungary has said is because of the result of “human negligence” by the plant.
The caustic sludge killed eight people and injured over 120 people along with sending mass amounts of pollutants into the tributary of the Danube, the biggest river basin in Europe where 83 million people inhabit the 19 countries that form the basin. As of yet, there is no sign that the Hungarian calamity has affected the river with all countries carefully monitoring the water’s PH levels every three hours.
The negligence by MAL consisted both of failing to mend the dam knowing that it was a threat and not properly treating the industrial waste. Zoltan Bakonyi, head of MAL, a key employer in the business has remained in police custody pending a court decision on his arrest. The Hungarian government is said to make a decision by Wednesday about whether to restart production.
The Hungarian police took over the MAL’s information systems and took control over the company and its assets. Disaster Commissioner Gyorgy Bakondi said that the firm will remain under state control until the debts have been paid which includes the cost of the state clean-up operation. The nearby village of Kolontar has also been evacuated for preventive reasons in case the wall fails again.
Written by Natalie Jaro