Trust Us, Photo is Real; And So Is Toll From Red Sludge

While this image may look like a product of Photoshop, it's not; it's very real. It's from Spanish photographer, Palíndromo Mészáros, who documented a Hungarian forest discolored by caustic waste. In October 2010, a reservoir at an aluminum oxide refinery in Western Hungary broke open, releasing 185 million gallons of corrosive red sludge, a waste product of the aluminum oxide refining process. The disaster killed nine and injured more than 120 people. When the sludge reached the Marcal river, a tributary of the Danube, it killed every living organism in it. When the waste started to spill into the Danube river, a spokesman for a Hungarian rescue agency explained that the “pH content [of the sludge] had been reduced to the point where it was unlikely to cause further damage to the environment,” according to USA Today.

Now, nearly two years later, Mészáros’ photos illustrate the lasting impacts of the spill, including these dyed trees, which show how high the waves of sludge rose in their village. 

Credit: Palíndromo Mészáros