Hungarian Aluminum Plant Still Causing Environmental Damage

A Hungarian aluminum plant that caused a massive spill of red sludge in October is still producing poisonous substances that endanger a local river, Greenpeace said Tuesday.

Urging the European Union to intervene, the international environmental protection organization said MAL AG is illegally disposing of red mud by delivering it directly into the river Marcal.

The facility made world headlines last October when 38.8 million cubic feet of red sludge burst through a reservoir’s retaining wall and flooded nearby villages, killing ten people.

Greenpeace conducted a water analysis on Jan. 26, taking samples at six points along a waste water channel near the Danube river.

The tests revealed alarming levels of toxic substances like arsenic, aluminum and organic carbon. The analysis by Vienna’s EPA found 1,300 micrograms of arsenic per liter in the samples – well above Austria’s legal limit of 100 micrograms. Aluminum levels, in turn, were were 100 times above the safe limit.

“The EU Commission has to intervene with the Hungarian government immediately to stop this threat to humans, animals and nature,” Greenpeace campaigner Balazs Tomori said.

Despite October’s disastrous chemical accident, MAL AG was able to resume operations barely two weeks after the spill.
“It’s immensely frustrating that the Hungarian government has legalized this environmental crime — a catastrophe emergency act has been activated, which overrides environmental regulations,” Tomori said, according to AFP.

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