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Brussels, 08 October 2010

Hungary activates the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and requests technical expertise to combat mud pollution

At 19h36 today, Hungary has activated the EU Civil Protection Mechanism for urgent international assistance in the response to the pollution caused by the break of a sludge depository in the city of Ajka. The Hungarian authorities have identified an immediate need for 3-5 experts with strong field experience in handling toxic sludge, decontamination and mitigation of environmental damage. Since 4 October the Monitoring and Information Centre(MIC) has been in close contact with the Hungarian authorities to gather information on the incident and to quickly react in case that a request of support come from Hungary. MIC has immediately communicated the request to the 31 countries participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism and expects offers soon.

After the activation of the Mechanism, Kristalina Georgieva, Commissioner responsible for Crisis Response, said "Hungary has been affected for an environmental catastrophe. Disasters like this do not stop at national borders and a combined European response can help deliver the most effective assistance possible. In this moment of need, I call all EU Member States to respond with generosity to the request of Hungary".

Thousands of cubic meters of red sludge mixed with water flooded parts of Kolontár and Devecser in the Veszprém County. The accident occurred when a depository of an industrial waste water containing sodium hydroxide burst on 4 October. The depository is the reservoir of an aluminium plant in the city of Ajka. According to the Hungarian authorities, 4 people died, 5 are missing and 123 hospitalised.


The European Civil Protection Mechanism facilitates cooperation in disaster response. 31 states participate in the Mechanism (EU-27 plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway). They pool resources that can be made available to disaster-stricken countries all over the world through this Mechanism. When activated, the Mechanism ensures the coordination of assistance interventions inside and outside the European Union. Such activities are coordinated by the European Commission through the Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC). Since its creation in 2001, the Mechanism has been activated for over a hundred disasters in Member States (like floods in Poland, Romania and Hungary in May, and forest fires in Portugal during the Summer), as well as worldwide, including recent disasters in Haiti, Chile and Pakistan.

For More info see MEMO/10/189

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