Honolulu HI (SPX) Nov 22, 2010
Hungary's toxic sludge spill is being called one of Europe's top three environmental disasters of the past few decades. On October 4, an enormous chemical-filled reservoir maintained by an Alumina plant in Ajka, western Hungary, ruptured, inundating several villages with nearly 200 million gallons of toxic sludge.
Immediately upon hearing of the spill, CBI Polymers, a Hawaii-based company that specializes in a unique decontamination product called DeconGel, began coordinating with US Department of Commerce representatives and the U.S. Embassy in Budapest, to assist with the disaster relief efforts.
Within hours of the toxic spill, the surge had killed four people, injured dozens more and left thousands homeless. In its wake remains a poisonous path of caustic alkali that can burn skin on contact, damage the lungs when inhaled, and can damage the digestive system, or be fatal if ingested. When news of the disaster reached CBI Polymers President Larry Stack, he responded immediately.
"As a company committed to environmental protection and humanitarian assistance, it was important for us to help with the Hungarian disaster," Stack said.
"DeconGel was made specifically for this type of crisis and it was critical for us to be on the ground to assess the situation quickly." CBI Polymers' Vice President Robert Harrison was promptly dispatched to the affected regions.
After arriving in the distraught town of Devecser, Harrison had the good fortune of meeting Keve Papp, CEO of Hungaropec, a leading environmental services company.
CBI's DeconGel, a high-tech decontamination solution that requires no water to use, has been shown to remove 99.7% of Alumina from bare concrete as determined by Inductively Coupled Plasma - Optical Emission Spectroscopy (ICP-OES) in laboratory analysis.
DeconGel is also effective on contaminants such as arsenic, cadmium, mercury and chromium-all hazardous elements found in the sludge. Harrison and Papp met with the Mayor and Deputy Mayor of Devecser, who approved a test-application of DeconGel. After the gel dried, the group returned to the test site and began the process of decontamination.
"The results were dramatic," Harrison said. "You could see the sludge encapsulated in the gel and the treated areas appeared to have removal levels of between 75 and 90 percent with just a single application."
Deputy Mayor Laszlo Kovacs, who is leading the day-to-day decontamination efforts, praised CBI Polymers' assistance, calling DeconGel "a promising solution" for Devecser's tremendous cleanup needs.
"It is impressive to see a company like CBI Polymers stepping forward to assist with the clean-up and relief efforts in Hungary," added John Holman, Director of the Pacific Islands for the U.S. Commercial Service (USCS).
"Within hours of the incident, they had reached out to see how they best could provide assistance. I have been impressed with the capability of DeconGel and believe it may contribute significantly towards creating a safer environment for the people of Hungary."
As the sludge dries out, the residual dust poses a great inhalation threat from a health and safety perspective. DeconGel can be used to spray down large structures, inside and out, providing an immediate protective barrier and encapsulating hazardous particulates.
Currently, many residents are using water to clean their homes and neighborhoods, which could further complicate the cleanup by generating wastewater runoff and potentially widening the area of contamination.
"We can help minimize the spread of residual dust contamination," Harrison said, adding that he would like to return to Hungary and offer training to villagers on the proper use of DeconGel.
As a prior naval officer, Stack confirmed that CBI will continue to work with the Hungarian and U.S. Governments to support the needs of our NATO ally. "Our hearts go out to the families of those who have lost their lives, homes, businesses and livelihood," he said.
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