Hungarian officials recalculate volume of red sludge flood _ almost as much as Gulf oil spill

Friday, October 8, 2010

Hungary: Toxic sludge nearly as big as Gulf spill

KOLONTAR, Hungary — New Hungarian government figures on the red sludge flood show that the volume of muck that escaped from a burst reservoir was almost as high as the blown-out BP oil well spewed into the Gulf of Mexico.

Government officials said Friday that 600,000 to 700,000 cubic meters (158 million to 184 million gallons) of sludge escaped and inundated three villages before entering the Danube.

The oil spill amounted to more than 200 million gallons. That translates into 757,000 cubic meters.

Government officials previously calculated the volume of the sludge spill at 1 million cubic meters, or 264 million gallons.

THIS IS A BREAKING NEWS UPDATE. Check back soon for further information. AP’s earlier story is below.

KOLONTAR, Hungary (AP) — An official says caustic water is being drained from an industrial reservoir near the one that ruptured in western Hungary and sent a torrent of red sludge into hundreds of houses and waterways leading into the Danube.

Tibor Dobson told the state MTI news agency that 100,000 cubic meters (3.5 million cubic feet) of the fluid is being gradually released into a local river already declared dead in the wake of Monday’s environmental catastrophe. The move is apparently meant to prevent new spills of toxic material.

Dobson said Friday that gypsum will be dropped into the river to neutralize the alkaline effect of the fluid.

The red sludge entered the Danube Wednesday amid fears that it will kill off the river’s fish and plant life. But there have been no reports of major damage to the waterway’s ecosystem.

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