by editor | 7th October 2010 9:22 am
Hungary chemical sludge ‘threatens Danube’
Firefighters have poured industrial clay into the Marcal River to bind the toxic chemicals
Hungary is racing to prevent red chemical sludge from a huge spill reaching the Danube river, officials have said.
The alkalinity has risen in the Raba river, which flows into the Danube – Central Europe’s major waterway.
If the sludge enters the Danube the pollution could reach six countries down river, including Croatia, Serbia and Romania.
Pollution has been detected in a branch of the Danube, called the Mosoni.
Hungary’s Prime Minister Viktor Orban says the worst-hit area will have to be abandoned. He visited Kolontar, one of the affected villages, on Thursday.
Near the plant, clay has been dumped into a tributary of the Danube, the Marcal river, to try to neutralise the sludge.
But the alkalinity in the Raba river was higher than normal, at about pH9 early on Thursday – above the harmless level of between pH6 and pH8, a spokesman for the disaster agency told Reuters news agency.
Police have opened a criminal negligence inquiry into the incident, which has killed four people and led to at least 120 others needing medical treatment.
The spill has polluted 40sq km (15.4sq miles), including six villages and part of a town.
Prime Minister Viktor Orban has visited one of the affected villages and declared it a write-off, saying he saw “no sense” in rebuilding in an area made uninhabitable by the sludge.
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