Toxic Release in Hungary — Red Mud

 

 

A true tragedy is going on in Hungary with the release of toxic red mud. From what I read this specific problem is limited to countries that fail to dry out and process such effluent properly. Fortunately, the U.S. is not likely to experience this particular type of release. Major liability issues also are in the forefront. The owner of the industrial facility already is in jail.  From Boston.com, October 12, see A Flood of Toxic Sludge — Red Mud in Hungary

Thanks to Magda Kornis for bringing this article to my attention.

2 thoughts on “Toxic Release in Hungary — Red Mud

  1. On Oct 11, 2000, a coal tailings dam of Martin County Coal Corporation’s preparation plant near Inez, Kentucky, USA, failed, releasing a slurry consisting of an estimated 250 million gallons (950,000 m3) of water and 155,000 cubic yards (118,500 m3) of coal waste into local streams. About 75 miles (120 km) of rivers and streams turned an irridescent black, causing a fish kill along the Tug Fork of the Big Sandy River and some of its tributaries. Towns along the Tug were forced to turn off their drinking water intakes. The spill contained measurable amounts of metals, including arsenic, mercury, lead, copper and chromium, but not enough to pose health problems in treated water, according to a federal official. The full extent of the environmental damage isn’t yet known, and estimates of the cleanup costs go as high as $60 million.

    At Martin County Coal’s Inez operations, three mines feed coal into a preparation plant on conveyor belts through underground mine workings. Plant waste is poured into the 72-acre (29 ha) Big Branch impoundment that holds 2.3 billion gallons (8.7 million m3) of slurry. Martin County Coal Corporation is a subsidiary of A.T. Massey Coal Company, Inc., Richmond, VA, which, in turn, is a subsidiary of Fluor Corp., Aliso Viejo, California.

    In 1997, after two similar but smaller failures in Virginia, the U.S. Mine Safety and Health Administration (MSHA) rated all coal-slurry impoundments across the country on their “breakthrough potential”: 45 of the 225 impoundment ponds in Appalachia were classified as having a high risk for failure, and 32 were listed as moderate-risk. The rest were deemed low-risk.
    The Martin County impoundment was deemed only a moderate risk to fail – despite a smaller leak in 1994. And if it failed, the survey said, the impact was expected to be on the safety of miners, not the environment. After the 1994 spill, improvements were made at the impoundment at MSHA’s direction, but they failed to prevent the disaster. Review and repair is not completed on more than half of 25 high-risk coal waste dams in the Appalachian coalfields, a MSHA report made public on Oct. 24, 2000 (but soon after removed from their homepage ), confirmed. In December 2000, MSHA upgraded the risk classification of some of the impoundments, including the Martin County impoundment… [ http://www.wise-uranium.org/mdafin.html ]

    February 26, 1999 marks the 27th anniversary of the failure of another tailings dam on Buffalo Creek, West Virginia. 125 peoople were killed and 4000 were left without homes. The dam failure was compounded by the fact that it was waste that was escaping; the waste caught fire and an explosion eventually occured.[http://www.simscience.org/cracks/intermediate/failures.html]

    Toney

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