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Sajó River Wildlife Endangered due to Polluted Mine Water from Slovakia

Hungary Today 2022.05.16.

The Sajó (Slaná) river, which enters Hungary in the north from Slovakia, is apparently heavily polluted by mine drainage water that has led to the mass elimination of the river’s wildlife in Slovakia. After a checkup, a local wrote that the river may be declared as good as dead, while an environmental expert reportedly burst into tears after witnessing the disaster. Although the contamination has not yet reached the river’s Hungarian section, Momentum MEP Anna Donáth is now urging government politicians of the two countries to finally take immediate action.

“Today, I took part in checking on the Sajó river’s wildlife, during which we examined the water in three sections.”

It is now official: the river is dead and no authority can deny it,”

member of a local Slovakian anglers’ association, Tibor Varga, wrote, who is taking the matter to the European Commission after witnessing inaction from the authorities.

Varga revealed that no trout, grayling, or chub fish were found in the 10-kilometer stretch of the river, except for carcasses which were plentiful, with dead river crabs virtually covering the river’s banks. According to him, environmental expert Rastislav Grohol was also shocked and said with tears that he had never seen anything like it before.

Reportedly, mine drainage water has been causing the pollution, originating in the Slovakian mines close to the river. This is something that had been reported since February, but the situation has reportedly become even worse since then. In March, the General Directorate of Water Management (OVF) established that it wasn’t alkaline red sludge but an iron-oxide-containing material in the Sajó in Slovakia; but in the Hungarian section, toxic materials are below the acceptable limits.

Local mayors have also spoken up recently, uncovering the severity of the problem. Jákfalva mayor (a village by the Sajó in Borsod-Abaúj-Zemplén), Ernő Vilcsek, published an angry video message, addressing outgoing President János Áder, who has put environmental protection on his agenda but who up until now chose to remain silent about the situation. According to Vilcsek, some 2.4 tons of pollution have been dumped into the river per day, claiming that “we are going to die” of this poisoning.

Momentum’s president Anna Donáth was the first Hungarian politician to speak up about the case. In an open letter revealed on Sunday, she called on both the Slovakian and Hungarian governments, “who have so far stood by idly and watched the ecological disaster unfold,” to take immediate action and stop the ecological disaster in the Sajó.

“Apart from one single promise made at the beginning of May, no meaningful action has been taken, the Hungarian opposition politician said, criticizing the Fidesz government’s politicians of remaining silent and having done nothing despite being loud over other issues, and despite president Áder being “allegedly committed to environment protection.”

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“Today is the International Day of Action on Climate Change and you are still burying your heads in the sand on this day,” she concluded.

However, the contamination has not yet reached the river’s Hungarian section, the spokeswoman of the General Directorate of Water Management stated. In recent days, there has been a partial discolouration up until the section of the river close to Sajópüspöki, Gabriella Siklós revealed, claiming that her colleagues are continuously measuring the presence of metals in the water and nowhere did they find results above the limit. She also revealed that the group is carrying out repeated measurements in three places along the river: at Sajópüspöki, Miskolc and Muhi.

featured image via Tibor Varga/ Facebook

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