Greenpeace reveals heavy metal pollution near Hortobágy national park

Greenpeace Hungary said on Tuesday it had detected heavy metal contamination outside the compound of a waste disposal facility near the Hortobágy National Park in eastern Hungary.

Greenpeace commissioned a local company, Isotoptech, to carry out tests outside the facility in a canal that flows into the Hortobágy river, the organisation told MTI.

Samples taken on Feb. 17 revealed zinc and chrome pollutants contained in galvanic mud in amounts exceeding permitted levels, Greenpeace said in a statement.

Greenpeace said it was unacceptable that the poisonous waste-disposal storage plant at Balmazújváros-Lászlóháza has not been scrapped. Consequently hazardous substances have appeared in canals adjoining the Hortobagy river.

It has called on the farm minister to initiate immediate measures to prevent further contamination and the facility’s elimination.

In January last year, Marcel Szabó, the ombudsman for future generations, carried out an on-site inspection, revealing ten thousand barrels, or two-thousand tonnes, of cyanide and chloride derivatives and galvanic mud stored improperly.

Zoltán Illés, the rural development ministry state secretary for environment management, at the time proposed setting aside 350 million forints (EUR 1.1m) in the central budget for the clean-up.

Zsuzsanna Endredi Marjas, in charge of the liquidation, said in the same month that the process had begun in August, 2011. She said that in the first year, 90 million forints had been spent on partially cleaning up the facility owned by Chase Corporation Kft. But full elimination would cost an additional 100-150 million, which has not been forthcoming.

Hortobagy is Hungary’s largest national park and Europe’s largest semi-natural grassland, covering 800 square km.

Photo: Ernő Kutnyászky