In the toxic sludge crisis at least nine people died and 122 people were injured. About 40 square km of land were initially affected. Analyses of the mud at Kolontár on behalf of Greenpeace showed levels of chromium 660 mg/kg, arsenic 110 mg/kg and mercury 1.2 mg/kg.
The National Directorate General for Disaster Management said that the high pH mud was considered hazardous and would cause an alkaline reaction on contact if not washed off with clean water. The chemicals extinguished all life in the Marcal River, and reached the Danube River on 7 October, prompting countries located further down the river (Slovakia, Croatia, Serbia, Romania, Bulgaria, Ukraine) to develop emergency plans in response.
On 11 October, the Hungarian government announced that the managing director of MAL had been arrested and was charged with criminal negligence leading to a public catastrophe. One the same day, a commissioner was appointed to manage the MAL Company.
On 13 October, 2010, the Hungarian government nationalized the company. The government planned to focus on compensation for the incident, job security, and identifying further locations at risk of accidents. The area of the crisis is still under surveillance, as estimates conclude it will take at least a year and cost millions of dollars to clean up the damage caused by a spill of industrial toxic red sludge. Greenpeace activists displayed a giant STOP sign over a toxic waste depository in Almasfuzito, northwestern Hungary as a protest against the accumulation of toxic waste. The depository is a former sludge reservoir of a now-defunct alumina plant, similar to the one that wreaked chaos, and theier action clearly shows that the industry is not regulated properly.
Issues about toxic waste remain
The collapse of the reservoir wall in Hungary wasn't a freak accident nor was it an isolated incident. According to some sources the remaining portions of the wall are not secure and while much of the sludge has emptied into the surrounding countryside, the rain and natural elements will determine if more will leak out. The lifestyle of the two villages nearest to the reservoir, Devecser and Kolontar, hasn't returned to normal. It is still chaotic, a large number of people live in improvised housing and feed in a portable soup kitchen.
Many people have returned to live with family and some took refuge in the abandoned buildings. A part of local population lives in their workplace. The Hungarian government has promised to build new homes by the middle of the next year for the sludge victims who survived the catastrophe. Meanwhile, they face a legal battle for compensation for money required to rebuild their homes earlier, instead of trusting in the system that has so let them down.