Red mud disaster: there was a catastrophe but no one is responsible

The conclusion of the five year long court case on the red mud disaster seems to be that the regulations of Hungarian authorities are not suited to prevent environmental disasters or to sort out who is responsible for them. Almost everyone in the case was aquitted. According to ‘Dialogue for Hungary’ (Párbeszéd Magyarországért- PM) the willingness to find those responsible is also missing, however, the real solution would be a comprehensive, European regulation concerning industrial activities with big environmental risks.


Barely 5 years passed since the red-mud disaster that caused the death of 10 people and spilled one million cubic meters of alkaline tailings and there is already a first instance court decision: no one is responsible, everyone was aquitted. Certainly, finding answers to the question of who did what wrong does not take this much time: already in the months following the accident an independent analysis was listing where the authorities and the owners made mistakes. This, however, made no difference, the responsibility of the authorities was not even examined by the court and the concerned company management was aquitted.


This decision reveals the shortcomings of the national regulation and official practices: we cannot prevent environmental damage, nor can we find responsible persons for the damage, the price is paid by the taxpayers. ‘Dialogue for Hungary’ hopes that the repeals will lead us closer to those who are really to blame and will continue fighting for a decision at the European level which will apply to all Member States concerning industrial installations with high risks.


28 Jan 2016

Benedek Jávor MEP