Authorities in Hungary say the clean up operation from the industrial toxic mud spill will cost millions of euros and take up to one year to cleanse.
The sludge, a bi-product from the production of aluminium, has already claimed the lives of four people and emergency services are in a desperate battle to halt the sludge before it contaminates the River Danube.
Hungary has declared a state of emergency in three counties with at least seven villages and towns swamped by the toxic sludge.
Many people have been suffering from burns and eye irritations as a result of the corrosive elements in the mud.
Reports suggest that as many as 7,000 people have been directly affected by the waste.
The sludge broke free when a dam at the alumina plant burst after days of torrential rain.
Investigators are probing the possibility that the`ecological catastrophe’ was caused by human error.