Hungary: Toxic Sludge in Kolontar, Devecser and Somlovasarhely
The Towns of Kolontar, Devecser and Somlovasarhely in Hungary Have Declared a State of Emergency
A sludge reservoir at an aluminum production plant burst its banks on Monday, flooding the towns with a toxic sludge. At least four people are dead according to the New York Times, while over 120 are injured. At least five more are missing, while about 60 are being treated in hospital.
The plant, Ajka aluminum plant, MAL Rt, has been ordered to suspend all operations immediately. About 35.3 million cubic feet of sludge leaked from the reservoir; it is a waste product in aluminum production and is toxic if ingested into the human body. The company has said the product is not considered hazardous waste however, and that they were following all safety standards.
Residents have been evacuated from the above towns and makeshift shelters have been set up in schools and community centers. About 7,000 people have been affected by the spill.
Photos of the incident show streets and structures covered in a thick red substance, and Zoltan Illes, state secretary at the Environment Ministry, called it 'an environmental disaster'.
“People here speak of a mini tsunami,” said Gyorgy Bakos, spokesman for the National Disaster Management Directorate, who was close to the scene of the accident.
Residents in Kolontar, describe a six-foot-high wave of toxic sludge coming through the streets, and into their homes.
“The walls of houses are covered with the stuff,” Mr. Bakos, the disaster management spokesman, said by telephone.
Some people have suffered from coming into contact with the sludge, describing symptoms such as an 'unpleasant sensation to their arms, legs and ears'.