7 Oct 2010

Chemical clean-up expected to take time

6:10 am on 7 October 2010

Hungary says it will take at least a year to recover from a massive chemical spill.

Hundreds of emergency workers are trying to stop the spill, from an alumina plant, from flowing into major waterways including the River Danube

A state of emergency was declared in three western counties after the chemical waste burst from a reservoir.

Four people are known to have died, and 120 were injured. Six more are missing.

The BBC reports at least seven villages and towns are affected.

Some 600,000-700,000 cubic metres of sludge escaped from the plant, 160km from the capital, Budapest, affecting an area of 40 sq km.

Environment Minister Zoltan Illes told the BBC the clean-up would take at least one year and probably require technical and financial assistance from the European Union.

He described the spill as Hungary's worst chemical accident and said a layer of soil 2cm deep would need to be removed from all of the contaminated region.