From: Krisztina Than and Gergely Szakacs, Reuters, BUDAPEST
Published October 9, 2010 07:24 AM

Hungary sludge reservoir may collapse, town evacuated

Hungary's premier warned on Saturday that the wall of a damaged industrial reservoir was likely to collapse, threatening a second spill of toxic red sludge, and a nearby village was evacuated as a precaution.


About one million cubic meters of the waste material leaked out of the alumina plant reservoir into several villages and waterways earlier this week, killing seven people, injuring 123 and fouling some rivers including a local branch of the Danube.

Prime Minister Viktor Orban said there was now a high risk of another up to 500,000 cubic meters of even thicker sludge escaping the reservoir due to a deterioration of a wall in the stricken part of the reservoir.

"Last night the interior minister informed us that cracks have appeared in the northern wall of the reservoir, whose corner collapsed, which make it likely that the entire wall will collapse," Orban told a news conference.

"The detached parts of the dam are growing apart, the distance between them widened by 7 cm from late last night until this morning ... so it is very likely that we have to reckon on this wall collapsing," he said.

Photo shows gypsum being poured into the Marcal River in an attempt to neutralise the alkaline contamination from a red sludge spill that has killed all water life in the river, in Morichida, 160 km (99 miles) west of Budapest October 8, 2010.  Photo credit Reuters.

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