Hungarians battle to hold back toxic sludge spill from Danube

Hungary opened a criminal inquiry yesterday into the toxic sludge spill that killed at least four people after a reservoir burst at an aluminium plant. As workers struggled to deal with the flood, the EU urged authorities to do everything they can to keep the slurry from reaching the Danube and affecting half a dozen other countries. Greenpeace yesterday described the spill as “one of the top three environmental disasters in Europe in the last 20 or 30 years”.

Last night workers were pouring 1,000 tonnes of plaster into the water to try to bind the sludge and keep it from flowing into the Danube, just 45 miles away. On Tuesday, experts said it would take the sludge about five days to reach the river, one of Europe’s key waterways. South of Hungary, it flows through Croatia, Serbia, Bulgaria, Ukraine, Moldova and Romania before emptying into the Black Sea.

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