In western Hunguary in October 2010 a retaining wall around a reservoir filled with toxic waste from an aluminum company burst open and released hundreds of thousands of cubic meters of deadly sludge. The stinking and toxic red sludge flooded the surrounding areas, rivers, and towns killing nine people and injuring hundreds with chemical burns.
Spanish photographer PalÃndromo MÃ©szaros has in a series of photos documented buildings, roads, and trees that were stained by a rust-red line after the two meter high toxic sludge had finally disappeared.
The sludge contained heavy metals, including lead, and was slightly radioactive. If ingested it was toxic and could cause lung cancer if inhaled. All in all, an area of 40 square kilometers was affected by the Ajka alumina plant accident. Numerous villages had to be abandoned and the final clean-up bill ended at tens of millions of dollars. The head of the Ajka alumina plant was later arrested for criminal negligence and several employees at the plant were suspected of negligence in connection with the spill.
These photos were taken six months after the accident when, as MÃ©szaros puts it, â€œthe silence takes the place of the headlines and just The Line is leftâ€. MÃ©szaros â€œThe Lineâ€ was exhibited at the Festival des Promenades Photographiques in VendÃ´me, France, last month.