The red sludge that engulfed towns and villages after a reservoir burst at MAL’s aluminium plant in Ajka, western Hungary, is steadily being cleared away but its toxic legacy remains.

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The red sludge that engulfed towns and villages after a reservoir burst at MAL’s aluminium plant in Ajka, western Hungary, is steadily being cleared away but its toxic legacy remains. Nine people died and 150 were injured in Hungary’s worst environmental disaster on 4 October. The toxic effluent spread over 40 sq km, polluting local rivers and poisoning arable farmland. Thanks to a massive effort by the government to divert, dilute and neutralise the sludge, the Danube escaped relatively unharmed.

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