Hungary toxic red sludge flood
The sludge is a highly corrosive material containing toxic heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, arsenic and chromium.
Human and environmental tragedyThe mining waste has covered over 40 km2, killing at least 4 people and injuring more then 120. In total 7,000 were directly affected by the poisonous flash flood.
“Currently it is impossible to do any sort of estimate of the magnitude of the damage done to nature,” said Gábor Figeczky, Acting CEO of WWF-Hungary.
“We expect further damages to fauna and flora, as the materials used in rescue operations and to neutralise alkaline are toxic as well. Some animals and plants die instantly, some will face the consequences of serious poisoning in the longer term. However there is still no clear information about the concentration of heavy metals in the red mud of this reservoir.”
The toxic mud can be dispersed in streams and rivers, threatening the Danube river and it's tributaries.
It also has the potential to soak into the ground and be absorbed by plants. This has a devastating longer-term effect on the environment and people, since it may cause serious health problems, such as growing disorders.
Satellite imagery from Google*, dated Oct. 2008, also seems to indicate points of leakage and dumped material along the edges of the reservoir - which could have been attempts to seal off leaks.
View Larger Map
“This points to neglect and a failure of regulation as a prime contributing factor to this disaster” said Gábor Figeczky, the Acting Director of WWF-Hungary.
WWF-Hungary urged a fast investigation of remaining reservoirs in the area and others around Hungary, along with an urgent aerial mapping of Hungary’s Danube banks.
* Special thanks to WWF supporters Istvan, Roman & Jouni for Google maps research