Share

10 found guilty in trial over Hungary 2010 red sludge flood

Share

BUDAPEST, Hungary (AP) — Two former executives of an alumina plant in Hungary were convicted and sentenced to prison Monday for an industrial disaster that killed eight people and injured more than 220 in flooded towns and villages, a Hungarian court said.

Zoltan B., the former CEO of MAL Zrt., received a prison term of 2 ½ years for public endangerment and other crimes, while Jozsef D., a deputy CEO, received a two-year sentence.

In keeping with privacy rules, the court did not identify the defendants by their full names.

On Oct. 4, 2010, a wall of a huge reservoir of the plant collapsed, flooding three towns and villages with about 2 million cubic meters (528 million gallons) of toxic red sludge and water.

The highly alkaline mix burned the skin of the victims, some of whom were swept away by the force of the rushing flood and drowned. One of the victims was 14 months old.

Trending:
Former NYPD Chief Calls Big Brian Laundrie Development 'Very Strange,' Suggests 'Something Is Amiss'

Eight other people on trial for the 2010 disaster received suspended prison sentences, fines or reprimands, while the city court in Gyor acquitted five. All 15 defendants were acquitted of all charges in 2016, but an appeals court ordered a retrial.

Monday’s ruling was appealed by prosecutors, who asked for stricter sentences, and by most of the convicted defendants, seeking leaner penalties.

The trial court ruled that MAL Zrt. managers and employees broke numerous rules regarding the storage and handling of the leftover sludge and water from producing alumina, the main raw material for making aluminum.

“The defendants’ negligence contributed to the catastrophe, since they did not deal with the warning signs of a possible breach,” the court said in a statement. “And they misled area residents and authorities regarding the true amount and toxicity of water accumulated due to the rule violations, which ultimately became determinant factors of the catastrophe.”

The court also said the defendants did not notify authorities or were late doing so regarding the sludge flood and its toxicity. The former CEO also made willfully misleading statements about the dangers of the spill, the court found.

The amount of water stored in the 25-hectare (61.8-acre) reservoir, over 1 million cubic meters (264 million gallons), was more than twice the limit and its toxicity exceeded the permissible level.

In its ruling Monday, the court also faulted poor planning, construction and maintenance of the reservoir.

Environmental group Greenpeace called the convictions “historic” but added that questions about the responsibility of the authorities in charge of overseeing the plant — which in some cases didn’t operate according to norms — remained unanswered.

“For Hungary to avoid similar catastrophes in the future, it needs independent and effective authorities,” Greenpeace said in a statement. “And strong and operative laws which are able to ensure the most important principle of environmental protection — ‘the polluter pays.'”

The Western Journal has not reviewed this Associated Press story prior to publication. Therefore, it may contain editorial bias or may in some other way not meet our normal editorial standards. It is provided to our readers as a service from The Western Journal.

Truth and Accuracy

Submit a Correction →



loading

We are committed to truth and accuracy in all of our journalism. Read our editorial standards.

Tags:
Share
The Associated Press is an independent, not-for-profit news cooperative headquartered in New York City. Their teams in over 100 countries tell the world’s stories, from breaking news to investigative reporting. They provide content and services to help engage audiences worldwide, working with companies of all types, from broadcasters to brands.
The Associated Press was the first private sector organization in the U.S. to operate on a national scale. Over the past 170 years, they have been first to inform the world of many of history's most important moments, from the assassination of Abraham Lincoln and the bombing of Pearl Harbor to the fall of the Shah of Iran and the death of Pope John Paul.

Today, they operate in 263 locations in more than 100 countries relaying breaking news, covering war and conflict and producing enterprise reports that tell the world's stories.
Location
New York City




loading

Conversation