The Hungarian prime minister has described the accident as an “unprecedented environmental catastrophe” in the country.
The government is trying to deal with aftermath and minimise the potential damage to the Danube.
Euronews spoke to ANNA NAGY, a spokeswoman for the Hungarian government in Budapest.
Are you winning or losing the battle on this ?
This is the first time ever that this type of catastrophe is happening to Hungary, and in Hungary. So we have to discover, little by little and step by step, what to do next – and this is what we are doing now. But it seems that everybody’s safe there. We have stopped the further leaking of the reservoir. We have started to clean the roads, the houses. We have managed to lower the pH level, the contamination level of the live water, so I think we have done a lot in the last three days.
And what about further afield, because the Danube flows into other countries… what action are you taking with your neighbours?
Well this afternoon the pollution reached the Danube but at a much lower level of contamination than it was on the spot of the accident. It means that it started from a pH level of 13; now it has gone down to 9.5 which is still not optimal, but it hasn’t harmed the vegetation in the river, it hasn’t harmed the animals in the river. So we have a very good chance and I think we have a very strong hope that we can prevent the Danube from being polluted to a level when (where) it can harm the environment in Hungary or in the neighbouring countries.
Now we spoke to one expert yesterday who said the most important thing was to invest, to prevent other catastrophes from happening in future. What are you going to do?
We are conducting several investigations right now. I think the first and the most important investigation is about who is responsible for this tragedy. The catastrophe started in the reservoir of a private company. So we are talking about a private company owning a firm, and the reservoir of this firm leaked this toxic red sludge. But I think there are some further conclusions that we have to learn from this terrible catastrophe. For example, we have to see whether the checking process is the type of process which is appropriate in other dangerous or hazardous firms, and we started right after the accident to check the other firms which deal with dangerous activities, with dangerous materials.
Anna Nagy in Budapest, thanks very much.