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State secretary orders MAL to shut down, stop sludge

State secretary of environmental protection Zoltán Illés ordered MAL Hungarian Aluminium Producing and Trading Company to cease production at its alumina plant and repair a reservoir that ruptured on Monday.

The government of Hungary declared a state of emergency in three counties in the west of the country on Tuesday morning in the wake of a flood of sludge from the ruptured reservoir. Four people were reported to have died in the disaster.

Speaking in Kolontár, one of the villages hit by the flood of sludge, Illés told MTI that MAL had continued production after the reservoir was damaged on Monday. It is suspected the reservoir ruptured because it was too full and the way its cells were connected was not up to code, he added.

MAL, which is owned by Hungarian investors, told MTI on Tuesday that it started to repair the damaged dam. In a statement published a day after the disaster, the company said its “management stands by their responsibility to continually inform the public in a trustworthy manner on the matter.”

The company said it would “mobilize all means at its disposal and make every effort together with the authorities in the interest of moderating the effect of the human tragedy, in as much as such is possible.”

MAL said the sludge was not considered hazardous waste under European Union conventions. (MTI – Econews)