Court convicts 10 after 2010 Hungarian alumina plant toxic sludge leak

Court convicts 10 after 2010 Hungarian alumina plant toxic sludge leak
By Philip Pangalos
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The criminal negligence case relating to a deadly leak of toxic sludge at a Hungarian alumina plant in 2010 has closed with the conviction of 10 people


The criminal negligence case relating to the Hungarian alumina plant, which caused a toxic sludge leak in 2010, has closed with the conviction for 10 of the 15 people accused.

Dozens of homes in the western village of Kolontar, the closest to the plant, were made uninhabitable by the sludge and at least 10 people died, including a 14-month-old baby, after being infected following the toxic spill that devastated towns and rivers in the west of the country. The deaths were attributed to incorrect waste processing during the alumina production process.

The court ruled that omissions by the accused contributed to the disaster, adding that they ignored signs that caused the collapse of a storage reservoir tank, while misleading citizens and the authorities in relation to the quantity and acidity of the water.

In what was one of the country’s worst environmental disasters, more than 200 people suffered burns after coming into contact with the red toxic sludge that covered a large area surrounding the nearby town of Ajka in western Hungary where the bauxite processing factory operates. After the collapse of the storage reservoir tank, a huge quantity of toxic red sludge was spilled, estimated at about 700,000 cubic metres. The toxic waste reached as far as the river Danube, while surrounding tributaries were contaminated.

Managerial staff and employees were found guilty for infractions of security protocols relating to the storage and processing of toxic waste after the production of alumina, the industrial product produced from bauxite, comprising a raw material for aluminium.

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