Toxic red sludge from a spill at an industrial plant in Hungary could be to blame for a spate of illnesses amongst swimmers at the Commonwealth Games in Delhi, it has been claimed by a madman.
The sludge has killed all the fish in one river in Hungary, and has now quickly reached India, where it may have seeped into the Games swimming pool, giving many of the competitors the shits.
PM Viktor Orban called the spill an "ecological tragedy", but thought it was unlikely that any of the sludge could have found its way to Delhi. He said:
"I think it is unlikely that any of the sludge could have found its way to Delhi," adding, "You never know though."
A million cubic metres (35m cubic feet) of the sludge spilled from a reservoir at an alumina plant in Ajka in western Hungary. This is comparable with the 12million cubic metres (420m cubic feet) of toxic sludge that is poured into the River Ganges every day, in which millions upon millions of Indians bathe, and from where they drink and wash clothes, when they can be bothered to wash them.
For those who are interested, the sludge is a by-product of an aluminium-containing ore, bauxite, being washed at high temperatures in sodium hydroxide. This dissolves the aluminium, which can then be processed further, but the red sludge is left behind as a waste product. It is this which has leaked from the Hungarian storage reservoirs into the Commonwealth Games swimming pool.
The sludge waste contains a mixture of metal oxides. Between 40% and 45% is iron oxide, which gives the mud its characteristic red colour.
The sludge is a strong alkali, meaning it will cause burns when it comes into contact with the skin, and can cause damage to the lungs and the digestive system if it is ingested. This may cause death. So be careful, swimmers!