Rare pollution event in Europe

A toxic sludge spill has occurred in Hungary, and has killed nearly all life in the Marcal River, the spill is rapidly spreading towards the Danube River, which flows into Romania, Serbia, and Croatia.  This is a surprising event simply because the spill has the potential to impact downstream neighbors in a significant way, though not as significant as loss of human life.

Check out the latest BBC story (among others) on the spill.  The following is from the BBC:

The sludge is a by-product from the early stage of aluminium production, which leaked from storage reservoirs.  As part of the process, bauxite, the raw material, is taken out of the ground and washed with sodium hydroxide.  This produces alumina, which is processed further, and waste, which is composed of solid impurities, heavy metals, and the chemicals used as processing agents.

About 40%-45% of the waste is iron-oxide, which gives it the red colour.  Another 10%-15% is aluminium oxide, a further 10%-15% silicon oxide and there are smaller quantities of calcium oxide, titanium dioxide and sodium oxide, according to MAL Hungarian Aluminium, the company that owns the Ajkai plant.

Also, here is the link to the Wikipedia article which has updated facts and link.


It seems relatively rare that this type of event occurs in the developed world.  This type of activity is much more commonplace in poorer countries, namely in Africa and Asia, but that doesn’t make it more excusable.

How will the downstream nations respond to Hungary if there is a loss of jobs, impacts to human health, and ecosystem degradation?


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