Budapest, October 2 (MTI) – A delegation of the European Parliament on Friday visited Kolontar, in western Hungary, to pay tribute to the victims of the red-sludge disaster.
On October 4, 2010, a million cubic metres of toxic red sludge escaped from the reservoir of the Mal company’s alumina plant, flooding the nearby villages of Kolontar and Somlovasarhely, and the town of Devecser. The toxic spill killed ten people, injured over 200, destroyed 358 homes, wiped out all life in two small rivers and polluted over 1,000 hectares of land.
Ulrike Lunacek, EP vice president, noted that when she visited the site five years ago, she had called for measures to be considered at domestic and European level to prevent such disasters. The European practice is based on the “polluter pays” principle and this should be reinforced in Hungary, too, she added.
She said it was good to see that the surviving victims of the disaster had moved into new homes and a memorial had been erected.
Benedek Javor, deputy chairman of the EP’s environment committee, said that reconstruction after the disaster had cost the central budget 40 billion forints (EUR 128m) of Hungarian taxpayers’ money.
The Hungarian MEP called for legislation on a European level to enforce the polluter pays principle and this is why he and other committee members had initiated a plenary session in Strasbourg to assess the disaster’s consequences and discuss possible measures to be taken to prevent similar accidents. They have also proposed organising a conference on this topic, he said.