From: Reuters, BUDAPEST
Published October 8, 2010 06:30 AM

Spill impacts in Hungary ease, Danube monitored

Pollution levels from a red sludge spill in Hungary have declined and the Danube, one of Europe's longest rivers, has suffered no palpable damage so far, a spokesman for Hungarian disaster crews said on Friday.

Tibor Dobson said fresh data showed pH levels of 8-8.2 in the Danube, which could be considered "normal," down from a level of around 9 when the sludge reached the river on Thursday.


"These data give us hope ... and we have not experienced any damage on the main Danube so far," Dobson told Reuters. Crews have strived to reduce the alkaline content of Monday's spill from a containment reservoir of an alumina plant.

Dobson said there had been reports of sporadic fish death on Thursday in the Raba and Mosoni-Danube rivers earlier affected by the spill in the west of the central European country.

The spill's alkaline content when it reached the Raba, the Mosoni-Danube and the Danube rivers on Thursday was still around pH 9 -- above the harmless range of 6-8.

All fish had died in the smaller Marcal River, which was struck by the spill first with much higher alkaline levels.

Crews were monitoring water quality on the Danube as the pollution moved downstream toward Budapest.

Hungary declared a state of emergency in three counties on Tuesday after the sludge -- waste from bauxite refining that has a strong caustic effect -- hit Kolontar, Devecser and other villages 160 km (100 miles) west of Budapest.

Four people were killed and more than 150 injured in the disaster. On Thursday, experts said they hoped the pollution would remained contained and not go beyond Hungary's borders.

Aerial photo shows the toxic red sludge spill from the Hungarian alumina plant, near Ajka, 100 miles (160 kilometres) southwest of Budapest October 7, 2010.
Credit: REUTERS/Peter Somogyi-Tóth/Greenpeace

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