17 Sep 2011

Company fined for toxic flood

1:49 pm on 17 September 2011

An aluminium company in Hungary has been fined 135 billion forints (472 million euros) over a spillage of toxic sludge last year.

Ten people died and serious damage to the environment was caused by the leak at a MAL Zrt plant on 4 October.

A government statement said the fine reflected the unprecedented volume of hazardous material released when reservoir walls were breached.

The BBC reports an estimated 700,000 cubic metres (184 million gallons) flooded from the reservoir. The company has two weeks to pay the fine or appeal.

The substances - a byproduct of aluminium production - flooded nearby towns and villages and across agricultural land in western Hungary.

It eventually spread across an area of 40 sq km and reached the River Danube, injuring more than 150 people.

Kolontar is some 160km southwest of the capital, Budapest.

Officials said it was Hungary's worst chemical accident but the BBC reports the company was allowed to resume production two weeks afterwards.