Hungary fears second toxic wave

Reservoir may collapse

Hungary fears second  toxic wave

A Hungarian firefighter walks through a street flooded by toxic red sludge. AP

About one million cubic metres of the waste material leaked out of the alumina plant reservoir into several villages and waterways earlier this week, killing seven people, injuring 123 and fouling some rivers including a local branch of the Danube.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said there was now a high risk of another up to 5,00,000 cubic metres of even thicker sludge escaping the reservoir due to a deterioration of a wall in the stricken part of the reservoir.

“The interior minister informed us that cracks have appeared in the northern wall of the reservoir, whose corner collapsed, which make it likely that the entire wall will collapse,” Orban told a news conference.

“The detached parts of the dam are growing apart, the distance between them widened by 7 cm from late last night until this morning... so it is very likely that we have to reckon on this wall collapsing,” he said.

Contamination
“We have amassed protective and neutralising material needed to stop any new contamination from reaching the Danube via the rivers,” said Orban.

Orban said 715 people were evacuated from the village of Kolontar, hard-hit by Monday’s spill, to Ajka as a precaution.

The national news agency MTI said crews were building a new 4- to 5-metre high dam in Kolontar to ward off any fresh sludge inundation.

Hungary declared a state of emergency in three counties on Tuesday after sludge from the bauxite refining plant flooded three villages about 160 km west of Budapest.

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