The Hungarian government will provide $1.5 million USD in compensation for non-material damages to victims of a 2010 toxic sludge disaster, the country’s National Development Ministry said last week.
The compensation will be provided to 70-80 families who experienced psychological trauma or suffered injuries after a tailings dam burst at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar Zrt aluminum plant in northwestern Hungary. Almost 100,000 cubic meters of toxic sludge, containing several types of heavy metals, was released from the tailings reservoir and flowed through surrounding villages, killing 10 people.
It is Hungary’s worst environmental disaster to date.
The toxic sludge spilled into the Torna and Marcal rivers, tributaries of the Danube, which raised concerns over drinking water contamination. Both rivers lost all wildlife, and a year later still had sludge along their banks.
Local environmentalists said the facility's owner, MAL Zrt, was not solely to blame for the toxic spill, but that inadequate Hungarian and European Union environmental regulations were also responsible.
International environmental group WWF said little has been done to ensure that this kind of accident does not happen again in Hungary and throughout Eastern Europe.