Red Sludge Floods Hungarian Towns

Red Sludge Flood

400 houses buried in factory's toxic sludge

An Alumina holding tank in western Hungary ruptured, pouring toxic red sludge over three towns yesterday. Roughly 158 million gallons of the sludge oozed from the holding tank in Ajkai Timfoldgyar Zrt plant, owned by MAL Zrt. The comapny’s net revenue from sales in 2008 was HUF 42.8 billion.

The sludge is an unfortunate by-product of Aluminum production, and contains sternly caustic material. Schools were evacuated and ambulance staff worked double shifts to treat the affected.

Police have launched a criminal investigation into how the holding container burst. Some 400 homes are flooded, and 40 people had to be rescued, as some areas, particularly in Kolontar the sludge had risen to roughly 6 feet (2 meters) high.

Four tons of bauxite rock is required to produce two tons of alumina. Two tons of alumina are required to make one ton of aluminum. The byproduct is a red sludge, which is toxic and must be stored.

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