On 4 October 2010, at 12.25 p. m., the northwestern corner of the dam of waste reservoir no. 10. collapsed at the Ajka Alumina Plant of the MAL Hungarian Aluminium Company, and the spill of toxic red sludge of about 600,000-700,000 cubic metres flooded the lower parts of nearby Kolontár, Devecser and Somlóvásárhely.
Pictures and videos from the disaster spread around the world within hours, and most people have heard of it, at least those watching news and reading newspapers.
Now visitors to the Hungarian National Museum can get more insight into the disaster by visiting the exhibition “Relief exhibition – Red Sludge Catastrophe 2010“. Here you can see photos, videos, childrens’s drawings of the catastrophe, and protective clothing and accessories of the volunteers. The entrance fee is 500 Ft, which goes directly to helping the victims in Devecser.
Relief exhibition – Red Sludge Catastrophe 2010 Hungarian National Museum November 10 – December 12
A common question nowadays from tourists is whether or not it is safe to come to Hungary as a tourist, as they have heard a lot of bad news because of the toxic sludge spill. We known of people who have skipped their travel to Hungary due to this already, but in our opinion there are no reasons why you should delay or cancel your Hungary and Budapest holiday due to this.
If you are staying in Budapest, unless you are reading newspapers and watching the news, you will not even notice that anything has happened. Life goes on, and everything works as normal. If you travel towards the Lake Balaton you will not suffer either, and if you travel towards the east you will not feel it either. Hungary, and of course Budapest, is a safe place to visit, even after the toxic sludge spill!
The tap water around in Hungary is safe to drink (as always – reported by the Hungarian National Public Health and National Medical Officer Service yesterday) and the food is safe to eat, but some people are worried for the 2010 wine vintage from some of the areas near the catastrophe. Except from that, no worries!
Background information about the crisis: Hungary’s largest ecological disaster took place on October 4, 2010 at 1:30 p.m. when the western dam of cassette X of the sludge reservoir, belonging to a privately owned company, Magyar Alumínium ZRt (Hungarian Aluminum Co), had ruptured. Due to the ruptured dam, a mixture of 600-700 thousand m3 of red sludge and water inundated the lower sections of the settlements of Kolontar, Devecser and Somlovasarhely via the Torna creek.
The spilling red sludge flooded 800 hectares of surrounding areas. The most extreme devastation was caused in the villages of Devecser and Kolontar, which are located near the reservoir.
A message from the US Embassy on October 8 sais the following: Warden Message for U.S. Citizens in Hungary
October 8, 2010
Toxic Sludge Spill
The U.S. Embassy is closely monitoring the situation of the toxic spill in Hungary through the media and contacts within the Hungarian Government.
According to the information available at this time, most of the damage is concentrated in the villages of Devecser, Kolontár, Somlóvásárhely, Tüskevár, Apácatorna, and Kisberzseny. These towns are all located in Veszprém country, about two hours southwest of Budapest. The Government of Hungary is restricting access to that area.
There is no evidence at this time that other areas of Hungary are affected by the spill. All major highways, airports, and train stations are open and operating normally.
Although there are press reports of the sludge reaching the Danube upriver from Budapest, according to the Hungarian Academy of Sciences there is no indication at this time that the water in the river has an abnormal level of toxicity. Tests of wells and underground reservoirs show no contamination of drinking water supplies. The Government of Hungary is monitoring both the river and drinking water supplies on a constant basis. The situation can be monitored in English on a special website created by the Hungarian Ministry of the Interior: http://redsludge.bm.hu/.