The flow of polluted sludge from a ruptured reservoir of an alumina plant in Hungary is threatening the Danube, EurActiv reported. Two days after an estimated 24 million cubic feet (equivalent to 280 Olympic-size swimming pools) of sludge poured from the reservoir, emergency workers are trying to prevent the flood from flowing into the Danube. TV footage showed them pouring plaster into a river 28 miles from the Danube. The plaster is expected to bind the sludge and keeping it away from Europe's largest river.
Danube countries are following things closely but at the moment don't expect serious consequences. Romania sees no danger of pollution of its territory and Bulgaria expects the contamination too be strongly reduced, according to the report.
The sludge, produced during bauxite refining, contains heavy metals and caustic soda. Waves of the toxic reddish sludge ruined villages around the Ajkai Timfoldgyar plant located in the town of Ajka in western Hungary.
Hundreds of homes were flooded and cars were found piled up after the flood passed on. Four people were killed and over a hundred injured. Many of those who were injured sustained chemical burns when the toxic materials went through their clothes.
Burns from the toxic sludge could appear days later and cause deep tissue damage, a doctor told the Associated Press.
The government of Hungary had declared a state of emergency in three counties and Prime Minister Victor Orban said the disaster was a result of human error. According to the company that owns the plant, MAL Zrt, the sludge was not considered hazardous waste under European Union conventions. The company has started to repair the damaged dam.