A dog covered in toxic sludge after the leak at an alumina plant in Ajka, Hungary. Photograph: Isifa/Getty Images
from the blog of Robert Kyriakides
The lands which the River Danube and its tributaries drain are rich in mineral ore deposits. The factory that makes Genersys thermal solar panels is located in an area rich in bauxite deposits and the solar panel factory was built in Ziar nad Hron in Slovakia next to a plant which processes bauxite in aluminium. I have been visiting this region for more than ten years and have been struck by its pristine natural quality, where bears, wolves and wild boar roam in the woods. It was, however not always thus.
Under the communist regime the bauxite processing plant supplied aluminium throughout the eastern bloc. The process of converting bauxite ore into aluminium is to wash it ore in a chemical bath which dissolves the aluminium leaving behind a red sludge. In the communist era apparently the sludge was left outside to dry, covering the town and its environs with a red dust. The Slovakians clean up the town and the countryside, as well as the plant’s processes and there has not been a trace of the red dust there for decades.
The dust was red because it contains iron, but is also contains aluminium oxide and silicon dioxide and other chemicals.
In recent years there has been some experimentation which has shown that it is possible to turn the red dust into a building material and it is also possible but expensive to neutralise it by further chemical processes.
About a hundred and fifty kilometres to the south of Ziar is town called Kolontar in Hungary, which also has a bauxite plant. There the red by product is left as liquid sludge and has been stored in reservoirs, presumably for further processing at some time in the future. On Monday of this week a reservoir burst and the red sludge came flooding out to pollute the countryside. It has engulfed several villages and is now working its way into the Danube river system where it will at some stage affect Serbia, Romania and Croatia, as well as other parts of Hungary.
This is one of the worse environmental disasters that have affected Europe since 1945. The inhabitants who lived closest to the burst reservoir have lost their homes, their possessions and in some cases their lives. The dangerous sludge has burnt the skins of people with which it has come into contact, covered an area of about forty square kilometres of land which must now be cleaned up and increased the alkalinity of the rivers into which it has seeped.
The effect of on the river system will be tremendous, even though the percentage of the pollution may be classified as trace.
We all live together on this planet. A reservoir in Hungary burst; no one wanted it to and no one expected it. As a result many people far away from the burst reservoir will have their lives changed for the worst. As humans, we truly live and die together.
nothing else is needed to be mentioned...
only this: we need to re-examine the good/bad practices in all mining activities in Greece, Gkiona, Messapia, Chalkidiki... don't we?
τι άλλο να πούμε εμείς?
ας γίνει αυτό το πάθημα ένα μάθημα για εμάς στην Ελλάδα να γίνουμε πιο αμείλικτοι με τα εγκλήματα που γίνονται στα κατά τόπους Ελληνικά Μεταλλεία!...π.χ. Γκιώνα, Χαλκιδική, Μεσσαπία...