Greenpeace finds pollutants near disaster site

Results showed antimony, a potentially cancerous element, to be three times the permissible level.

2010-10-13 09:42

Greenpeace said fresh tests taken by Vienna-based scientists found at least three pollutants in western Hungary's sludge flood disaster-hit region which could cause environmental problems, the organisation said on Tuesday.


In addition to the high arsenic content, above-normal levels of antimony, nickel and cadmium were found in sludge samples taken from the town of Ajka and the surrounding area, Greenpeace said in a statement sent to MTI.


Results of tests by the Viennese environmental authority showed antimony, a potentially cancerous element, to be three times the permissible level. Nickel is an allergen and cadmium can cause problems in soil treated with chemical fertilisers; it is also known to have adverse effects on the reproductive and nervous systems, the report said.


Greenpeace scientists tested the dust content in Devecser, one of the towns worst hit by the caustic deluge. It found that readings were "significantly above normal levels" on a wind-free day. On a windy day, these numbers could jump manifold, Greenpeace spokesman Jurrien Westerhof said.


The earlier statement added that arsenic pollution in the area was the most critical problem and it criticised the Hungarian government for not releasing any environmental test results since the outbreak of toxic sludge from a burst reservoir last Monday.


The European Union has pledged to send six experts to test air and water pollution, three of whom have already arrived and started work at the site.


Greenpeace said last Friday that the concentration of arsenic in the surroundings of Kolontar village, the hardest hit residential area, was twice what is normally found in red sludge and said official data did not show correct figures.The Hungarian Academy of Sciences and Hungary's health authority (ANTSZ) responded that their methods were tried and tested and their measurements trustworthy.


The WHO on Tuesday announced it is sending experts to Hungary to help the authorities to determine health risks. The health risks were "initially grave but confined to a specific area," WHO's Geneva office said.

Related Stories:

  • Trial of alumina firm sued by sludge flood victims' family starts - 2011-05-04 07:28
  • Police ban Devecser protest - 2010-11-17 09:49
  • Company faulted in sludge flood says government blame too early - 2010-11-08 09:56
  • Tenth victim of sludge flood dies - 2010-11-05 11:45
  • Experts prepare for new dam collapse - 2010-11-03 10:00
  • Survey shows Hungarians satisfied with government handling red sludge disaster - 2010-10-19 09:56
  • Residents of stricken villages may return home today - 2010-10-15 09:52
  • Sludge spill deaths up to eight - 2010-10-12 09:29
  • Second wave of toxic sludge expected - 2010-10-11 09:44
  • State secretary says Danube saved, minor tributaries dead - 2010-10-11 09:13
  • EU experts to arrive on Monday - 2010-10-11 09:10
  • Sludge flood death toll up to five - 2010-10-08 11:49
  • Toxic sludge reaches Danube - 2010-10-07 15:50
  • Hungary said to be safe for visitors after red sludge spill - 2010-10-07 09:52
  • Clean-up operations, search for victims continues in towns hit by chemical disaster - 2010-10-06 09:52
  • Four dead as red sludge floods towns in western Hungary - 2010-10-05 09:07

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