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Saturday, October 4, 2014

when red mud flowed in river Danube ...'Ajka alumina sludge spill'

The river Danube flows  in Central and Eastern Europe - classified as an international waterway, flows southeast for 2,872 km (1,785 mi), passing through four capital cities before emptying into the Black Sea.

Dam 999, reportedly a science fiction disaster film, courted many controversies in India.  The film is based on the award winning short documentary DAMs - The Lethal Water Bombs and the Banqiao dam disaster of 1975 that claimed the lives of 250,000 people in China. Coming as it did when different States had different views on Mullaiperiyar dam – the film was banned in Tamilnadu. 

On this day, 4 years earlier - Hungary declared a state of emergency after a flood of toxic sludge escaped from a factory killing at least three people, wounding 120 and threatening the country with "an ecological catastrophe".  The wave of toxins flooded three villages about 100 miles southwest of Budapest after the walls of a residue reservoir at an aluminium plant in the town of Ajka ruptured, releasing an estimated 38.8 million cubic feet (the equivalent of 440 Olympic-size swimming pools) of red, poisonous sludge that affected some 15 square miles.

Known as - Ajka alumina sludge spill, it  was an industrial accident at a caustic waste reservoir chain of the Ajkai Timföldgyáralumina plant in Ajka, Veszprém County, in western Hungary.  On 4 October 2010, the north western corner of the dam of reservoir no. 10 collapsed, freeing approximately one million cubic metres (35 million cubic feet) of liquid waste from red mud lakes. The mud flooded  several nearby localities- eventually reaching river Danube.  It was not initially clear how the containment at the reservoir had been breached, although the accident came after a particularly wet summer in Hungary, as in other parts of central Europe. The cause of the spill was reportedly human error.

The red mud involved in the accident was waste product of the Bayer process, which refines bauxite into a form of aluminium oxide called alumina. The mud primarily contained non-aluminium compounds present in the bauxite ore and left as residues after its refining along with sodium hydroxide used to dissolve aluminium oxide.

Remember that on that Black Sunday when Indian Ocean tsunami struck, lot of sludge in river Coovum was washed back and got deposited in to slum houses on the bankson Langs Garden near Chitra theatre.

With regards – S. Sampathkumar
4th Oct 2014.

Photo credits : independent.co.uk

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