Company Director Detained Over Toxic Sludge Police in Hungary have detained the director of an aluminum company that generated a deadly flood of caustic red sludge. He's being held on suspicion of public endangerment and environmental damage, after the sludge flowed out of a reservoir at the plant into nearby villages and streams. BBC Correspondent Nick Thorpe talks to Steve Inskeep about the spill's status.
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Company Director Detained Over Toxic Sludge

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Company Director Detained Over Toxic Sludge

Company Director Detained Over Toxic Sludge

Company Director Detained Over Toxic Sludge

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Police in Hungary have detained the director of an aluminum company that generated a deadly flood of caustic red sludge. He's being held on suspicion of public endangerment and environmental damage, after the sludge flowed out of a reservoir at the plant into nearby villages and streams. BBC Correspondent Nick Thorpe talks to Steve Inskeep about the spill's status.

LINDA WERTHEIMER, Host:

Good morning.

NICK THORPE: Good morning to you.

WERTHEIMER: What does this arrest say about what has happened? Are people angry there? Is this a response to the anger?

THORPE: They also say they're very keen for the factory to start again, as soon as possible. They're worried for their jobs. This whole small town of 35,000 people or so, probably one in 10 jobs directly depends on this factory.

WERTHEIMER: Have you seen the villages now? It's been a week, as you said. What does it look like now?

THORPE: They're worried that the rest of that reservoir will now collapse. They've said it's inevitable, sooner or later. They don't know when, because it's already badly cracked. So all they can do now, is, effectively, build this huge protective barrier to try to contain any future spills.

WERTHEIMER: What about the notion that this sludge is creating an unsafe level of pollutants in the air? That these villages may not be habitable for some time?

THORPE: This is the biggest single immediate health concern, both for the emergency service workers on the ground - the army, the fire brigade and so on - and all the people working on people the barrier. But also for those local people who are still hoping to stay in their homes in their town.

WERTHEIMER: Nick Thorpe, thank you very much.

THORPE: Thank you.

WERTHEIMER: This is NPR News.

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