Ajka red mud disaster


On October 4 2010 approximately 1 million cubic metres of toxic red sludge escaped from a breach in reservoir number 10 of the MAL AG aluminium plant at Ajka in western Hungary. It was the worst environmental disaster in Hungary’s history. Six villages were flooded with toxic red mud, nine people died, over 150 were hospitalised with burns from the highly alkaline substance, and hundreds of people were made homeless.

An area of 40 square kilometres was made barren and life in the Marcal River was extinguished. The sludge soon reached the Raba River and eventually the Danube. The long-term impacts, particularly resulting from accumulating heavy metals contained in the sludge, are still unclear.

An aerial photograph taken in June 2010 showing a damaged and clearly leaking sludge pond wall revealed that the toxic mud disaster in Hungary and subsequent pollution of rivers including the Danube could have been avoided.

The accident underlined the serious risks to people as well as nature that are posed by dozens if not hundreds of similar toxic waste sites scattered across the former Communist countries of Central and Eastern Europe.  



Photo Gallery

Video Gallery

No comments added yet


WWF staff

Occupation: WWF staff
Location: Bulgaria