Sludge flood - Crack on wall of reservoir stops
<p>Budapest, October 10 (MTI) - The crack which appeared on the northern wall of the red sludge reservoir of an alumina plant in Ajka (W Hungary) and triggered the evacuation of the nearby village of Kolontar, did no longer widen last night, Tibor Dobson, spokesman for the rescue operation, said on Sunday morning.</p>
Kolontar was flooded with caustic red sludge on Monday after a dam of the reservoir broke, killing at least seven people and injuring more than 150. One person is still missing.
On Thursday, however, a new, 47-centimetre crack appeared and widened by another seven centimetres by Friday morning. This is what prompted the authorities to evacuate the nearly 800 villagers of Kolontar and alerted the 6,000 residents of Devecser, a nearby town, to be ready for evacuation.
Dobson said that 400 to 500 residents have left the town but there is a good hope for the others not to be evacuated.
Workers of MAL Zrt, the owner of the reservoir, and staff members of the catastrophe management authority are making frantic efforts to stop the gaps and reinforce the wall of the reservoir.
Plans are afoot to build a sarcophagus around the storage pool but construction would take a long time and it is still to be decided who should bear the costs, the spokesman said.
In the meantime, a 400-metre-long protective barrier is being constructed in Kolontar to divert a potential spill from the unaffected part of the village and allow its flow to be regulated, he said.
The protective barrier is expected to be completed by Monday morning. The village s residents will only by allowed to return to their homes once the barrier is in place.
Dobson said that the pH level of nearby waterways belonging to the tributary system of the Danube had decreased to 8, diluted enough to prevent further biological damage.