European Civil Protection Mechanism mobilised for toxic sludge in Hungary

Five experts from France, Belgium, Sweden, Austria and Germany are part of the European civil protection team deployed to support the Hungarian authorities in their efforts to combat the pollution caused by the break of a sludge depository in the city of Ajka. Commission liaison officer arrived to in Hungary on Saturday, 9 October.

On Thursday 7 October the Hungarian Government issued a request for assistance to the European Commission's Monitoring and Information Centre (MIC). Hungarian authorities asked for a small team of 3-5 experts with strong field experience in preventing/mitigating damage from alkali sludge on flora and fauna, and decontamination of agricultural land.

The Member States participating in the EU Civil Protection Mechanism responded quickly to this call with an impressive number of offers, more than 40 experts were offered by 10 Member States.

Key priorities for action on Hungarian natural disaster

  • Contribute to the assessment of the impacts of the alkali sludge on the environment, in particular on agricultural land, water - including underground waters - and flora and fauna;
  • Advise on the possibilities of prevention, mitigation and reduction of negative environmental impacts caused by alkali sludge;
  • Provide expert opinion on the optimal solution of decontamination of sludge in urban and agricultural area; and
  • Assess further needs, anticipate risks and suggest solutions with regard to the rehabilitation of nature, the agricultural and urban land affected.

European Civil Protection Mechanism

The European Civil Protection Mechanism, which facilitates cooperation in disaster response, gathers all 27 Member states plus Croatia, Iceland, Liechtenstein and Norway. With the support of the Civil Protection Financial Instrument, 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 (in 2010 this included floods in Poland, Romania and Hungary in May and forest fires in Portugal), as well as worldwide, including recent disasters in Haiti earthquake, Chile and humanitarian crisis in Pakistan.