Company dumps debris at illegal site despite having been paid €13 million for demolition project
The consortium made up of the companies ZÁÉV and Föld-Trans 2001 Kft. was paid HUF 3.9 billion (EUR 13 million) by the government for the demolition of the Puskás Ferenc Stadium, an immense structure in the heart of Budapest. The amount paid for the work was so high that not only industry experts but also the wider public noticed. Atlatszo.hu gathered evidence that proves that the consortium processed at least part of the remains of the stadium illegally and that the debris was deposited illegally at an abandoned industrial site. Atlatszo.hu is in possession of documents that show that environmental authorities are aware of this and that they sent an official warning to Föld-Trans 2001 Kft. and told them to remove the debris from the site.
It was only two months ago that we covered Föld-Trans 2001 Kft, a company that recently appeared, seemingly out of the blue, and started to receive huge government contracts in the infrastructure sector. Nobody had heard of the company before 2016, except for industry experts, but that year the company, as part of the above-mentioned consortium, won the public tender and got the contract for demolishing the structure formerly called ‘People’s Stadium.’
The project worth HUF 3.9 billion suddenly made the company very profitable: last year it spent HUF 600 million on advertising and supporting foundations and the owners received HUF 600 million in dividends.
Atlatszo.hu learned that last year rows of trucks were carrying debris to the 9th district, to an industrial site near Határ Road. When checking out the area we found hundreds of cubic meters of debris including asphalt, soil and mixed construction debris. The pieces looked like parts of an athletic field, marble columns, and plastic that resembled spectators’ chairs, all of which suggested that the debris might be from the demolished Puskás Stadium.
The owner of the site is the municipality of the 9th district of Budapest, but business records show that it is rented by a company called Betonbruch Kft, whose owner is József Tóth. He is the owner and CEO of Föld-Trans 2001 Kft. Which means that the company that rents the site and the one that demolished the stadium are owned by the same person.
The demolition of the stadium was managed by the government agency called National Sports Centers. We contacted them and asked for the documentation of the process. When we received those we found that there is no mention of the site at the 9th district. No activity connected to the stadium was supposed to have happened there.
But we met people who work next door and who told us that debris from the stadium was transported to the site, ground up and carried away again. Looking at Google Earth photos from 2016 you can see the huge piles of debris.
According to the National Sports Centers, all the debris was either recycled or handed over to companies specializing in treating such material. But documents Atlatszo received from the agency also said that 67 thousands of tons of debris were reused or deposited by Föld-Trans 2001 Kft. That amounts to 2-3 thousands of truckloads of debris.
We asked the owner of Föld-Trans 2001 where all that debris was placed or how it was recycled. We also asked him about the piles of debris on the site rented by his other company – we have not received answers yet.
We also reached out to the local environmental protection agency responsible for the area (in Hungarian: Pest Megyei Kormányhivatal Érdi Járási Hivatal Környezetvédelmi és Természetvédelmi Főosztály). Atlatszo learned that the agency passed two resolutions regarding the industrial site in question.
One resolution directs Föld-Trans 2001 to identify where the debris at the site is from and to hand that over to a company that has the permits and qualifications to handle it. The other resolution is giving a warning to the company for carrying out activities at the site that they had no permission to do. The warning was given instead of a financial penalty. The company thus does not even have to pay a fine, but it still appealed the decision.
Written by András Becker
You can read the original story in Hungarian here.
The photos of the stadium that appear in the video were taken by Péter Máté of daily newspaper Magyar Nemzet and were first published in that paper.