Red Sludge Disaster 4th Anniversary Marked
Budapest, October 4 (MTI) – The government and opposition parties issued statements to mark the 4th anniversary of the red sludge disaster in western Hungary, today.
On October 4 in 2010, about a million cubic metres of toxic red sludge escaped from the reservoir of the Ajka alumina plant, flooding the nearby villages of Kolontar, Devecser and Somlovasarhely. The toxic spill killed ten people, injured over 200, destroyed 358 homes, wiped out all life in two small rivers and polluted over 1,000 hectares of land. Many of those who came in contact with the highly alkaline substance suffered severe burns and 120 people needed hospitalisation after the flood.
In the disaster, over 700 people suffered material damage and a total of 35 billion forints (EUR 118m) was spent from the central budget on compensations and reconstruction.
Marking the anniversary, spokeswoman Eva Kurucz said in a video message posted on the government’s website that four years ago Hungary’s worst ecological disaster caused by industrial activity had occurred.
She emphasised that thanks to exemplary cooperation, the villages affected by the disaster could again come to life and undergo development.
Kurucz noted beside the government’s assistance in rebuilding the local infrastructure and financial support to affected families the efforts of hundreds of thousands of experts and civilian volunteers on reconstruction, social and health care work, as well as on rebuilding local communities and reviving social life.
Zoltan Gogos, the deputy leader of the opposition Socialists, said that four years after the disaster no proper account had been given to those many people who had contributed donations from across the country on how exactly the total of 2 billion forints raised had been spent.
The small green LMP party demanded clarification of the scopes of responsibility in the disaster, assessment of consequences and reasonable compensation for families of the victims.
Radical nationalist Jobbik demanded the immediate punishment of those responsible for the disaster and said the state should cover court costs related to the event.