Environment Group Warns of Toxic Spills
SOFIA, Bulgaria (AP) — A year after a flood of toxic red sludge devastated Hungarian villages an environmental group warned on Monday of possible similar ecological disasters in Eastern and Central Europe.
The Worldwide Fund for Nature, or WWF, said in a statement that little has been done to prevent such catastrophes from occurring in the future at other toxic waste sites in the region.
The group alleges that Hungary has let its presidency of the European Union pass "without taking any action to defuse further ticking time bombs in Central and Eastern Europe."
On Oct. 4, 2010, ten people died after a gigantic sludge reservoir burst its banks at a metals plant in Ajka in southwest Hungary. The highly caustic material devastated villages and injured more than 150 people, many of whom suffered chemical burns.
Many Eastern European countries have began to clean up some of their contaminated spots with the help of Western funds and following strict conditions imposed on them in exchange for membership in the European Union.
The WWF, however, said there are still no adequate controls and a mandatory insurance system for similar toxic mining waste sites.
"EU tax payers should not be made to pay for mistakes of mining companies and relevant authorities when catastrophes like that at Ajka happen," said WWF's Andreas Beckman.
Recalling the catastrophe in Hungary and the 2000 accident at Baia Mare in Romania, where a reservoir at a gold mine burst, spilling cyanide-laden water into local rivers and killing tons of fish and other wildlife, Beckmann warned that there is no idea "how many toxic time bombs are still ticking in Eastern Europe."