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Hungary orders aluminum company to pay victims for 2010 disaster

By Agence France-Presse
Tuesday, November 5, 2013 17:45 EDT
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A picture taken on July 14, 2011 shows a red sludge storage facility near Kolontar, 160 km west of Budapest. [AFP]
 
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A Budapest court ordered the operator of an industrial plant Tuesday to pay compensation over Hungary’s worst environmental disaster when a huge flood of toxic sludge killed 10 people in 2010.

The Hungarian Aluminium Production and Trade Company (MAL) has to pay 32 million forints (108,000 euros, $145,000) to a family who lost a child and whose two other children suffered severe burns.

The ruling by the Metropolitan Tribunal in Budapest is the first in 23 compensation cases involving MAL, which was judged responsible in 2011 for the spill.

A holding reservoir at MAL’s Ajka plant in western Hungary burst its walls on October 4, 2010, sending 1.1 million cubic metres (38.8 million cubic feet) of poisonous, stinking mud oozing into surrounding area.

Some 150 people were injured, hundreds more were left homeless and had their livelihoods destroyed. It also wiped out almost all life in rivers and streams in the immediate vicinity and spread to the Danube river.

MAL was already ordered in 2011 to pay 135 billion forints (453 million euros, $611 million) to the regional environmental authorities.

MAL’s managing director Zoltan Bakonyi and 14 employees went on trial in late 2012, accused of negligence, waste management violations and damages to the environment. It was unclear when a verdict was expected in that case.

The company said it would appeal Tuesday’s ruling.

[Image via Agence France-Presse]

Agence France-Presse
Agence France-Presse
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