First Satellite Image of Hungary’s Toxic Sludge

BY Travis Daub  October 12, 2010 at 12:58 PM EST

NASA’s Earth Observatory has released this image of the toxic spill in Hungary. The image was taken on Oct. 9.

The alumina plant appears along the right edge of both images, and incorporates both bright blue and brick red reservoirs. The breach of the retaining wall is apparent in the close-up view. Sludge cut a channel through the northwest corner of the waste reservoir and spread onto nearby fields.

The sludge forms a red-orange streak running west from the plant. The wide-area view shows the spill thinning but remaining discernible for several kilometers to the west. The New York Times reported that the stream nearest the plant empties into larger rivers. The BBC reported that authorities were pouring plaster into the Marcal River in hopes of preventing the sludge from reaching the Danube River.