I wrote this article for danube-river.
Unfortunately, the latest European environmental disaster is happening right at home – edging around the Danube River Basin is a toxic waste spill from an industrial alumina plant reservoir located near the Hungarian town of Kolontar, in the vicinity of Lake Balaton, 160km southwest of Budapest.
The spill, a by-product waste from industrial manufacturing in the form of red mud, seeped across soil and groundwater, posing a high risk of toxic contamination and extensive but likely only short-term environmental damage in the area.
As the sludge oozed toward Danube, the longest international river in the world and an important breeding ground for wildlife, fear grew that it may spread the pollution faster carried by its stream, which is thought to be harmful to the delicate ecosystem and population health.
Transboundary Environmental Monitoring agencies, including UNESCO, IUCN and WWF are on high alert, and urge that there may still be chronic effects of heavy metals on the region’s delicate animal and plant habitats.
WWF-Hungary criticized the regulatory bodies for failing to attend to the faulty and ailing industrial site in due course, pointing out that the whole accident could have been avoided.
One of the most touristically attractive natural values in Eastern Europe and further, the pristine Danube is running from Germany’s Black Forest to Romania’s Black Sea, across eight national borders. The thought of an abrasive chemical tainting the impeccable flora and fauna and jeopardizing its biodiversity is traumatic.