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Hungary sludge disaster cleanup to cost HUF 15 bln

The environmental cleanup of Hungary's worst industrial disaster ─ a flood of toxic sludge from a reservoir at an alumina plant last October ─ will cost close to HUF 15 billion, Csaba Szabó, the farm minister's commissioner for the project, said at a press conference in Kolontár on Tuesday.

The cleanup of the farmland that was affected has been completed, Szabó said. Almost 800 hectares were cleaned up and some 560,000 cubic meters of tainted material moved to a dump near the plant which was the source of the spill, he added.

The cleanup of some 130,000 cubic meters of tainted material from the Marcal River will wind up by the end of summer, he said. The cost of the river cleanup will reach HUF 6.4 billion and is included in the total environmental cleanup cost.

Szabó said there was no need to place any restrictions on the farm land that had been cleaned up: farmers may grow whatever they wish.

Jenő Lasztovicza, chairman of the Veszprém County Council, said reconstruction in the area hit by the disaster is continuing, but he estimated the total cost of restoring the area would come to HUF 35-40 billion. The detailed account of all payments, checked by the State Audit Office and the Government Audit Office, will be available in 2-3 months, he added.

The flood of toxic red sludge from the reservoir killed ten people and damaged hundreds of homes.