Last week, in a series of moves related to air quality, the European Commission proposed measures to help member states combat air pollution. The Commission also referred France, Germany, and the United Kingdom to the EU Court of Justice for failure to respect limit values for nitrogen dioxide and for failing to take appropriate measures to keep exceedance periods as short as possible. In addition, it referred Hungary, Italy, and Romania to the Court of Justice over persistently high levels of particulate matter.
Hungary will modify rules on the construction of small solar power plants and subsidize loans to landowners as part of its efforts to promote renewable energy. The country’s sole nuclear power plant currently provides over half of Hungary’s electricity while 29% of its electricity is imported. The new rules would relax regulations on the use of farmland. The state would purchase all electricity generated at the new solar plants with a long-term goal of minimizing Hungary’s need to import electricity in the next two decades.
In 2010, a mud spill full of toxic sludge from an alumina reservoir overran three towns, polluted waterways, and killed ten in what is recognized as one of Hungary’s worst environmental disasters. In 2016, a court in the town of Veszprem acquitted MAL Corp, the aluminum smelting company that owned the reservoir, ruling that the company’s executives had not been criminally negligent. Prosecutors claimed the court had drawn false conclusions.
Fifteen people tried in connection with a 2010 toxic spill that killed 10 people were acquitted by a Hungarian court on February 4, 2016. The spill, one of Hungary’s worst environmental disasters, sent toxic red mud from a reservoir across three towns, destroyed hundreds of homes, and penetrated rivers all the way down to the Danube. The aluminum smelting company responsible for the spill, MAL Corp., was taken over by the government and remains under liquidation. In the ruling, the court determined that MAL Corp.