Thursday, October 7, 2010

Hungarian toxic sludge reaches Danube river

Hungary's toxic sludge spill, which has killed four people, reached the Danube river, threatening to contaminate the waterway's entire ecosystem, officials have said.

The sludge reached the Danube's Mosoni Branch, about six miles from the main branch of the river this morning, according to Tibor Dobson, head of the disaster relief services.

The industrial accident triggered by the collapse of walls at the factory reservoir on Monday has been described as an ecological disaster and is now threatening the entire ecosystem of the Danube, Europe's second longest river which runs from Hungary through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Romania and Ukraine before flowing into the Black Sea.

Hungarian villagers whose homes and livelihoods have been destroyed by the wave that poured out of an aluminium plant reservoir earlier this week have demanded compensation from the company blamed for the disaster.

Authorities have ordered a criminal inquiry into the accident, which killed at least four people, injured 120 and left three people missing.

After bursting from the reservoir and flooding three villages on Monday, the sludge - a waste product of aluminium production that can contain heavy metals - ended up in the Marcal River, part of the tributary system feeding the Danube, some 45 miles to the north.

It is feared it could contaminate the Danube, one of Europe's biggest rivers.


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