Ajka, Hungary (AFP) Oct 15, 2010
Hundreds of people boarded buses back to their tiny village in western Hungary Friday, 11 days after it was devastated by the country's worst-ever chemical accident.
Residents from Kolontar -- one of the villages hit by a massive wave of toxic sludge on October 4 -- have been given permission to return home now that a system of dykes has been built to prevent any further spills from a seeping residue reservoir at a nearby alumina plant.
"Everything is ready for the residents of Kolontar to return to their homes," a spokeswoman for the disaster relief services, Gyorgyi Tottos, told AFP.
The villagers have been housed in a sports centre in the nearby town of Ajka since being evacuated a week ago due to the threat of a second spill of toxic sludge engulfing the area and the need to build the dykes.
"Hope dies last, so I am still hoping for the best even though I have lost everything," said 84-year-old Ferenc Farkas as he boarded one of the waiting buses.
"I was born in Kolontar and I am going to die here, I have never thought about leaving," Farkas said.
The villages of Kolontar and Devecser were the hardest hit when a residue reservoir belonging to MAL Hungarian Aluminium Production and Trade Company burst, sending a tidal wave of toxic red sludge across an area of 40 square kilometres (15.4 square miles), polluting the Danube River and its tributaries.
The accident, described by officials as an ecological disaster, killed at least nine people, injured 150 and left hundreds more homeless.
Jozsef Holczer said his house had to be demolished to make way for the new dyke and so he would at least be compensated for that.
"I am going to get some money for my house they demolished, but I am not sure if I get anything for the rest of the things I have lost," he said, while waiting for a lift back to the village.
By Friday afternoon, some 300 of the 800 people evacuated had returned to Kolontar.
Also Friday, the alumina plant, which was shut down after the accident, resumed production, although with some delay due to "administrative problems," according to Timea Petroczi, a spokeswoman for the disaster relief services.
It was expected to reach its normal capacity within four days, she added.
MAL has been placed under government control since the disaster. But because it is one of the major employers in the impoverished region, there was concern that locals would lose their jobs and livelihoods if the plant stayed out of operation for too long.
"I wish the factory would never have to restart again. But we wouldn't want the thousands of people who work there to lose their jobs either," said Katalin Szaldi, 63, who was also returning to Kolontar.
"My house was undamaged. But it's still worth nothing now. Who would be crazy enough to want to live here after all this?" she asked.
"We have no choice, we just have to go back."
Police roadblocks remain in place in Kolontar, with only the villagers allowed to pass, but no press or media.
Environmental group Greenpeace slammed the decision to allow the villagers to return as "irresponsible" until the exact causes of the accident were established.
Greenpeace also warned after an analysis of the mud that if the sludge dries out and is converted to dust, it will pose a huge health risk.
The finer the particles of dust, the deeper they can enter the air ways, threatening the lungs and entering the blood supply, it said in a statement.
"The fine particle time bomb is ticking," Greenpeace spokesman Herwig Schuster said.
Share This Article With Planet Earth
Our Polluted World and Cleaning It Up
UN conference mulls future of sick planet
Paris (AFP) Oct 16, 2010
Grim news, few options and a fierce haggle await the 193 members of the UN's Convention on Biological Diversity (CBD) in Nagoya on Monday as they debate how roll back a looming, man-made mass extinction. Dogging the 12-day conference in Japan is the wreckage of a promise that, in 2010, the much-ballyhooed International Year of Biodiversity, UN members would significantly brake species loss. ... read more
Pakistan told to shape up in exchange for aid|
China web users slam nation's mine safety amid Chile rescue
Malnourished Pakistani flood children face winter peril
Pakistan flood damage 9.7 billion dollars: World Bank, ADB
Polymer Behaviors Below The 1 Nanometer Level
Examining How Materials Bond At The Atomic Level
TanDEM-X Leader Has A Connection With Antennas
Breakthrough Promises Bright Fast Displays At Low Power
Crocheted coral exhibit carries environmental warning
Mekong countries should delay dam projects for decade: study
US lifts Gulf of Mexico deepwater drilling ban
Australia Must Have Better Plan For A Variable Water Future
Study: Glaciers protected Antarctic range
Crew circles North Pole in one summer
Himalayan climate change action urged
Disappearing Glaciers Enhanced Biodiversity
Japan biodiversity meet adopts rules on GM crop damages
Extreme weather forces Indonesia to import rice
States rip apart EU bid to fix GM crops mess
U.N. hails eradication of a cattle disease
'Ring of fire' volcano locations explained
Tropical Storm Paula tests Cuba's infrastructure
Cuba on storm alert as Hurricane Paula approaches
Hurricane Paula heads for Mexican tourist coast
Niger former junta number two arrested: family
Europe must reinforce African armies or 'move': Niger
Niger junta leader says no arrests: regional official
Ethiopia signs peace agreement with rebel faction
'Missing link' fossil debated by science
Research Suggests Volcanoes Nixed Neanderthals
Study finds brain changes during sleep
Canadian helps severely disabled speak through music
|The content herein, unless otherwise known to be public domain, are Copyright 1995-2010 - SpaceDaily. AFP and UPI Wire Stories are copyright Agence France-Presse and United Press International. ESA Portal Reports are copyright European Space Agency. All NASA sourced material is public domain. Additional copyrights may apply in whole or part to other bona fide parties. Advertising does not imply endorsement,agreement or approval of any opinions, statements or information provided by SpaceDaily on any Web page published or hosted by SpaceDaily. Privacy Statement|