North expert helps in Hungarian sludge clean-up
POLLUTION expert Prof Paul Younger flew out from the North East yesterday to help with the clean-up in the aftermath of the Hungarian red toxic sludge disaster.
Prof Younger, who is director of Newcastle University Institute for Research on Sustainability, has a long track record in dealing with industrial and mining pollution.
He will be working with Hungarian experts on ways to combat the effects of the sludge and the long-term implications for the environment and local communities.
Prof Younger was asked to fly to Hungary by Government chief scientist Sir John Beddington after Prime Minister David Cameron promised help to his Hungarian counterpart Viktor Orban.
Standing by the shores of Hungary’s Lake Balaton yesterday, Prof Younger said: “This spill led to tragic loss of life and affected an area of 40 square kilometres and now the Hungarian people are working on the clean up.”
Prof Younger and three colleagues from the British Geological Survey will be advising on clean-up methods for the spill, which hit tributaries of the River Danube.
Over the last 20 years Prof Younger’s projects have included using horse manure and straw to produce bacteria which helped neutralise pollution in mine water at Quaking Houses in County Durham. He also led a project to combat environmental problems caused by polluted water seeping from abandoned silver and tin mines in the Bolivian Andes – using llama dung. Prof Younger and his colleagues are currently investigating zinc pollution from historic mines in the Nent Valley in Cumbria.
The Hungarian incident last month happened when toxic by-product from the processing of bauxite ore for aluminium burst from a storage reservoir.
Nine people died when up to 700,000 cubic metres (24.7m cu ft) of red sludge flooded from a burst reservoir at an alumina plant in Ajka, flooding the village of Kolontár and the town of Devecser.
There were also fears of widespread environmental damage when the toxic sludge entered the watercourse.