Saturday, October 9, 2010

Red Mud Reservoir May Still Pose Threat

Aerial view of the broken dike at the Ajka Alumina refinery,
Ajka, Hungary Sandor H. Szabo, MTI / AP
Hungarian authorities have begun the full evacuation of the village of Kolonta, Hungary, as new damage has been found in the retaining walls holding back additional red mud at the Ajka alumina refinery.   I discussed the initial flooding earlier this week.
Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban, who was visiting the stricken area Saturday, said it was "very likely" the reservoir wall will collapse.
"It's in very bad shape, and our estimation is that that wall could fall down," Orban told reporters in the town of Ajka. "One consequence is that human lives could be in danger. That's the reason why we pulled out ... all human lives from that area, in order not to have more loss in human life."
If the wall collapses, 500,000 cubic meters of red sludge could spill out -- half of the amount that spilled out Monday, the prime minister said.
All residents of Kolontar village were being evacuated, spokeswoman Gyorgyi Tottos said. Previously, only the residents of a few affected streets had been told to leave, she said.

(source: CNN)
The cause of the disaster is still under investigation, but Prime Minister Orban has made it plain that he believes it was due to human error and carelessness. 

While red mud did reach the Danube, tests seems hopeful that there won't be much damage, if any, to the Danube's ecosystem. PH levels in the Danube appear to have been lowered enough due to emergency efforts through the week that wildlife will hopefully not be harmed.


  1. wow! i hadnt heard of this at all, up to date my man

  2. i heard they were dumping acid in the water to make it better? how does that work?

  3. The acetic acid they were dumping was vinegar, which is an acid with a PH level below 7. Since the red mud is a base, it has a PH above 7. In the case of the red mud here it had a PH as high as 13. 7 is the PH of water and is considered neutral. When you combine an acid and a base they react and counteract each other, just like when you mix baking soda and vinegar together. If you want to make an acid less acidic you add a base to it, and if you want to make a base less basic you add an acid.

    This only counteracts the PH of the red mud, however. They are still going to have to deal with all the other toxins and heavy metals that may have been in the sludge, but at the time of the spill the basicity of the sludge was the main concern.


Hey everyone, feel free to comment, but be aware that this is meant to be a fun, educational blog. Comments are moderated for crude language and/or other objectionable material and will be deleted as needed.