Tuesday, October 12, 2010

Hungary's Ajka Alumina Disaster

Before and after.  From the Google Lat-Long Blog
On October 4th Hungary experienced its worse environmental disaster since the collapse of Communism.  The Ajka waste sludge reservor broke with thirty-five million cubic feet (one million cubic meters) of rust, aluminum oxide, and pH high sodium oxide rushed through the river systems of northwest Hungary.  At least eight are dead, the local economy is in shambles, and much of the local enviornment is in critical condition.

Near the break the waste sludge was a pH level of 13.  At that level the waste is a million times more basic than water at its natural state.  Many of the agricultural fields will need intensive care or they will never be able to produce again. Homes and other human goods will need to be abandoned and destroyed because they are no longer usable.

The sludge has reached the Danube River, the second largest river system in Europe.  Fortunately its pH level has dropped to high but manageable levels.  So far there are no reports of dead fish or dying vegetation by the river.

Google has released updated imagery showing the before and after of this horrible disaster.  It is downloadable for Google Earth.

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