Posted by: Green Knight | October 6, 2010

Red Goulash, Anyone?

OK, so now a surface impoundment at an aluminum refinery in Hungary busted at the seams, sending 264 million gallons of corrosive sludge into the Danube.  The malefactor (sorry, manufacturer) claims that the stuff isn’t hazardous waste by EU standards.  I guess I’ll hafta read up on their definitions…if it’s caustic  (high-pH) enough to burn your skin, I’d probably be calling it hazardous…pH of 12.5 or up (or 2.0 or lower) makes corrosives hazardous by US regulations.  When I was a State inspector, I visited more than a few refineries and foundries, and they generate some pretty nasty stuff.  In the US, nobody would EVER be allowed to have a quarter of a billion gallons of ANYTHING in a pond.  Except clean water and fish.  And the place was inspected two weeks prior?  Well, we’ve had some coal-waste dam failures here, even one that wiped out a state park not too many years ago that somehow technically wasn’t regulated.  I’m not saying that the EU regs are more lax than US ones; hell, they’re usually ahead of the curve on this stuff.  But having laws & regs on the books is futile if enforcement doesn’t follow suit.  My sympathy goes out to the Magyars and everybody downstream.



  1. I guess they’ll have to retire Strauss’s “Blue Danube Waltz,” and get some Eastern Bloc punk band to write the “Red Danube Tango.” On a more serious tack, though, I’m pleased to see that animal-rescue work is being conducted.

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