Mészáros Group acquires lucrative toxic waste processing site after the state renewed its permit
Environmental license of the Tatai Environmental Protection Ltd.’s hazardous waste processing plant at the Almásfüzitő red mud reservoirs was renewed in December 2019. Atlatszo reported earlier that the government-aligned Mészáros Group was in negotiations about the potential acquisition of the company before it was granted the new permit by state authorities. As we predicted in March, the deal has now gone through, adding an environmentally not so friendly enterprise with a yearly turnover of HUF 2 billion to the ever-growing Mészáros empire.
Atlatszo reported in March this year that after several years of waiting, a new environmental permit was granted to Tatai Environmental Protection Ltd. (TKV)’s hazardous waste processing plant at the Almásfüzitő red mud reservoirs. The reservoirs of the former alumina factory are located right next to the Danube: Greenpeace has protested and campaigned on several occasions since then because they believe the reservoirs are likely to leak into the Danube.
After several years of waiting, a new environmental permit was granted in December 2019 to Tatai Environmental Protection Ltd. (TKV)’s hazardous waste processing plant at the Almásfüzitő red mud reservoirs.
Last year, the company (Tatai Környezetvédelmi Zrt., TKV) which operates the hazardous waste processor on the former red mud reservoirs in Almásfüzitő, had a turnover of over HUF 2 billion. A licensing document published on the website of the Hungarian Competition Authority at the end of March gave away that the Status Next Environmental Private Equity Fund belonging to the Mészáros Group acquired sole control over Envirotis Holding Zrt., which owns TKV.
There are two funds owned by STATUS Capital Venture Capital Fund Management Ltd., 75% owned by Lőrinc Mészáros: STATUS MPE Private Equity Fund and STATUS NEXT Environmental Private Equity Fund. The latter became the majority owner of Envirotis Holding, which owns the company (TKV) operating the toxic waste management plant on the former alumina red mud reservoirs in Almásfüzitő.
We asked the Mészáros Group about their plans for the purchased waste processor and about the concerns raised by environmental activists because of the environmental impact of the Almásfüzitő plant, but so far we have not received a reply.
According to Greenpeace Hungary, one of the reservoirs at Almásfüzitő is located right next to the river Danube, only separated from it by the dam thus toxic materials may leak into the soil and the river. Greenpeace claims that the new permit, extended until May 31, 2020, does not sufficiently limit the level of hazardous ingredients in the deposited materials.
“It is unacceptable for Greenpeace, regardless of the identity of the owner, that non-degradable hazardous substances are placed on the reservoir and that the company can take in hazardous waste and the hazardous components will obviously not degrade but only dilute during the treatment there” – a Greenpeace Hungary spokesperson told Atlatszo.
We also asked TKV to find out what changes are expected in the operation of the waste treatment plant after the change of ownership? The company did not respond to this request, nor to our letter asking them about the possible causes of strong, unpleasant smell reported recently by some locals living in the immediate vicinity of the reservoir. A local resident who asked for his name to be withheld told Atlatszo that lately the neigborhood “was so smelly that you couldn’t stay outdoors”.
According to several sources we asked, the case of the Almásfüzitő reservoirs illustrates the shortcomings in the central environmental management and monitoring in Hungary. Many of the interviewed experts pointed out, that environmental licensing decisions are often made in Hungary with a political bias, because these enterprises represent serious economic interests.
Another company of the Mészáros Group, Visonta-based Viresol filed a lawsuit against Atlatszo when we first reported about their pollution in November 2019, which caused toxic gas leakages at the Mátra Power Plant, where several workers became ill. Atlatszo recently obtained a decision of the Hungarian Disaster Management Authority which confirms our findings. Although Viresol was officially documented polluting a water reservoir up until January this year, the results of the official investigation were kept secret.
Visonta-based Viresol filed a lawsuit against Atlatszo when we first reported about their pollution in November, which caused toxic gas leakages at the Mátra Power Plant, where several workers became ill.
Written by Gabriella Horn. The more detailed Hungarian version of this article is available here. Video: Dániel Németh.