A look at the toxic sludge in Hungary from space

The toxic sludge is a human and ecological disaster.
Written by Boonsri Dickinson, Contributing Editor

The Advanced Land Imager (ALI) on NASA's Earth Observing-1 (EO-1) satellite captured this image of the toxic sludge in Hungary.

After a reservoir at an alumina (aluminum oxide) plant in western Hungary released chemical waste, this toxic byproduct spewed into the local stream and flowed into nearby waterways. It has completely covered local towns and caused hundred of people to evacuate.

So far nine people have died and many more have checked into hospitals to be treated for chemical burns.

The Hungarian Academy of Science found a high level of arsenic in the toxic sludge (much higher than what is considered to be normal levels of waste coming from alumina plants). Other heavy metals such as lead, cadmium, and chromium are also in the sludge too.

The head of the Mal Hungarian Aluminum Production Trade Company has been arrested and might get 10 years behind bars if found guilty of the criminal charges. Apparently, the damaged wall could have been fixed because it had been leaking for months.

A mining expert told New Scientist that it's worth pointing fingers at the lack of European legislation for the disaster. A second wall could have prevented the massive spill. But the mining industry doesn't require it like other industries do.

Photo: NASA

This post was originally published on Smartplanet.com

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