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Q&A Hungary toxic spill

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Q&A Hungary toxic spill

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Rain in Hungary is accelerating the spread of toxic sludge, from an aluminium plant, into rivers which flow into the Danube. To find out more about the potential consequences, euronews spoke to Philip Weller, Executive Secretary of the International Commission for the Protection of the Danube River.

euronews:
“Mr Weller, what must authorities do now in order to prevent the toxic sludge from spreading?”

Philip Weller:
“It is very important that the sludge does not spread into bigger rivers like the Danube. Currently it is only in a smaller, tributary river. The Hungarian authorities are doing their best to prevent it from getting into the Danube where it could spread across the border.”

euronews:
“What if authorities don’t manage to stop the toxic sludge, what would be the consequences in the Danube delta?”

Philip Weller:
“There will probably be heavy consequences for the Danube delta. Fish will die and the neighbouring environment will be contaminated. In the long run, fish will survive in the Danube, but they will be infected with heavy metals and chemicals which, in high doses, are harmful to them and the environment. The Hungarian authorities should try to prevent that.”

euronews:
“Ten years ago, parts of the Danube were contaminated after an accident in Romania. What lessons did we learn?”

Philip Weller:
“We learned a lot, the ICPDR has installed an early warning system which alerts cities along the river. This worked well this time. We also renovated container tanks, especially in Romania. A lot has been invested at the site of that accident. But in general, it is important that we invest more to prevent such catastrophes rather than spend money on the aftermath.”

euronews:
“So precisely how can we avoid toxic substances leaking into rivers?”

Philip Weller:
“It is important that such substances are not kept next to rivers. In this case, there will be an investigation as to why such toxic chemicals have been stored so close to a river and local villages. This has been one of the lessons we learned from the accident in Romania, that toxic substances should not be kept in container tanks outdoors. These can burst and the material can leak. We have to always ensure that these kind of chemicals are not stored out in the open.”