The health of the Danube River may now be at stake as Hungarians continue their four-day effort to contain 35 million cubic feet of red sludge that burst a containment pond at the Ajkai Timfoldgyar alumina plant near Kolontar Monday. So far, Hungarian environmental officials are declaring the Danube safe, but Hungary and neighboring countries are monitoring the water toxicity level as clean-up efforts continue.
Red sludge is a byproduct of alumina manufacturing. It is highly alkaline, contains heavy metals including lead, and is slightly radioactive. Despite these toxic properties, the European Union does not categorize red sludge as hazardous waste.
Hazardous waste or not, red sludge has a popularity problem in Hungary right now after wiping out three towns and threatening the country’s largest river. Miscreant sludge no doubt tops the Hungarian Environment Ministry’s “most wanted” list for imminent environmental threats to be eradicated.
Photos of the Hungarian pollutant have been zipping through cyberspace. News outlets are tracking the trails of notorious sludge as it infiltrates waterways.
The toxic waste is responsible for driving 800 residents of Kolontar from their homes. It has whisked away the possessions of residents of three counties.
This sludge is merciless, a potent adversary, and dangerously unpredictable. In October, that can only mean one thing: a perfect Halloween costume design concept.
Red Sludge is reminiscent of Spiderman’s alien symbiote Venom, and Venom has never wanted for popularity in the Halloween costume market. Like the contaminant, Venom is an oozing liquid. Like Venom, Red Sludge could be represented in the world of Halloween costumes with a shiny red-mud fabric to impart the sense of wetness, with a red, mud-colored nylon balaclava as a head covering.
One problem with the concept of a Red Sludge Halloween costume when it comes to the Hungarian market is that Hungary doesn’t celebrate Halloween. There are no ghoulish parties or trick-or-treating on Oct. 31 in the country, except in the ex-pat communities.
Another problem with the Halloween costume for Hungarians is that the subject is probably too much a sore point with most people right now for them to approach it with the requisite humor.
In the U.S., though, where Red Sludge is somebody’s else’s environmental disaster 4,500 miles away, these costumes for Halloween hold great promise.
“What are you going as?”
It has an authentic ring to it. Personifying the cause of Hungary’s environmental disaster also provides a target for the frustration people feel when disasters happen.
As a Halloween costume design concept, Red Sludge offers couple’s potential: while one partner dresses as the notorious flood of waste, the other shows up in a biohazard suit.