Red-mud accident at a sludge reservoir of Alumina Factory Ajka - Hungary


  • The red-mud broke through at the corner of the dum of a sludge reservoir at 12:10 o’clock on October 4, 2010. The watered red-mud flooded about 800 hectare plough-land and pasture and about 3,5 hectare built-up area (Devecser, Kolontár).
  • 96-98 % of the red-mud settled remained in the sludge reservoir (first estimation).
  • The watered red-mud is alkaline, therefore it is dangerious for the nature and it causes a corrodent injury on the skin surface.
  • The red-mud is a by-product of the Bayer alumina production process. Its main components are: Fe2O3 (30-50%), Al2O3 (10-20%) and SiO2 (10-15%). Further components are TiO2, Na2O, CaO and other metals too.
  • Till now there is no exact information about the heavy metal content of the red-mud run out. It is expected that the heavy metals had settled in the red-mud during the years therefore not too much run out from the sludge reservoir together with the watered red-mud.
  • At the area of Alumina Factory Ajka there are ten sludge reservoir. About 50 million m3 grey-mud and 30 million m3 red-mud are storaged in that.
  • There is no any information about similar accident in the history of the Hungarian alumina production.
  • The most important and urgent task to localize the contamination. There is no fresh supply of the red-mud contamination. People has started the collection of red-mud and they are supplied to an unhart sludge reservoir.
  • Very important task to monitor the quality of the water at the observer well of soil water and at the dug well too.
  • A team of the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (chemist, ecologist, biologist and environmental experts) visited the site of the accident (Kolontár) to survey the damages and to appraise the risk of the near and distant future.

Budapest, October 6, 2010

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