On October 4, 2010, the Hungarian town of Devecser woke up to a landscape soaked in toxic red sludge from a nearby alumina plant reservoir that had burst. The crimson flood of the caustic byproduct of aluminum extraction killed ten people and seriously injured 150. Three years later, thanks to visionary mayor Toldi Tamás, Devecser has re-emerged from the “red mud disaster” as a model green town that uses clean and local energy and grows its own food.

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A new park marking the disaster zone is part of a new sustainable development designed for free by the late Hungarian architect, Imre Makovecz. Next to the park is a 30-hectare poplar grove, which provides wood to heat 87 homes built 8 months after the disaster. Each summer a team of 12 workers cuts down the poplars and puts them through two mulching machines, providing fodder for a clean and local source of energy. Geothermal energy is also part of the energy mix in Devecser, powering a busy bus terminus.

Tamás is just as interested in producing local food as he is in producing local clean energy. “I want to bring back the low-level, healthy farming techniques we had before. Then we can make it certain that all our public institutions use local produce. It’s healthier than the stuff you can buy at Tesco,” he says. So this year Devecser is installing a solar vegetable dehydration plant, which is aimed to spur an bigger demand for local produce.

Via The Guardian

Photos by Magyar: Közigazgatási és Igazságügyi Minisztérium, Kormányzati Kommunikációért Felelős ÁllamtitkárságEnglish: Ministry of Public Administration and Justice, Ministry for Government Communication [Public domain], via Wikimedia Commons