The one year anniversary of Hungary’s worst disaster approaches and the bulldozers are still at work as remnants of a thick red sludge remain embedded in the soil.
Little of the village of Kolontar remains. It felt the full force of the torrent of toxic waste when it burst through a nearby reservoir wall. The scars on the people and envoronment are still evident and fears are high it could happen again.
“The region is full of toxic waste deposits, legal or illegal, which can mean a threat to the environment and people. So they did not do a good job in preventing a next one, but they did a good job in cleaning up this one,” warned Balazs Tomori, Greenpeace campaigner
Hungarian Aluminium the metal company behind the sludge has received a 472 million euro fine. It is and will remain a vital cog in the economy.
“Definitely Hungarian government interest is that this company, in private hands or in the government hands, should continue working for two different reasons. One, six thousand working places and second market share on a European scale, market share on a world-wide scale.”
The river of caustic red mud killed 10 and injured 120. It polluted two villages and a nearby town spreading almost two million cubic metres of the sludge. The anger remains among locals as Hungarian Aluminium denies wrongdoing and disputes the fine.