Locals protest landfill to be extended near national park – drone video of the garbage dump
“Too high a rubbish hill would stick out from the landscape of the Great Plain” – one of the council members summed up the problem of landfill expansion at a municipal meeting in the town of Izsák. On the outskirts of the settlement the previously built landfill would be doubled in size without an environmental impact assessment. The area is located in the immediate vicinity of Lake Kolon, a nature conservation area belonging to the Kiskunság National Park. Our drone video shows the lake which is an internationally listed wild water habitat, and the landfill planned to expanded a few hundred meters from it.
In Izsák, from a population of five and a half thousand, more than a thousand have signed a petition against the expansion of the landfill that has been operating since 2003. The signatories fear that according to preliminary calculations, a total of nearly three hundred thousand cubic meters of garbage is planned to be transported by up to 30 trucks a day, and that this would damage the health of residents and the rich fauna and flora of the protected area.
The petition recalls that in 1999, 93% of voters rejected the plans for building the original landfill at a local referendum (invalid due to insufficient turnout), but it was developed anyway. Those opposing the planned expansion of this landfill complain that the company operating it submitted the extension plans in May 2020 without informing and consulting the local population.
The Department of Environment and Nature Protection stated that “no significant environmental impact can be expected, therefore no environmental impact assessment is required to start the activity”. According to the petition, the operating company wants to double the capacity of the site, while the original landfill was supposed to receive garbage from 19 nearby settlements.
The regional waste management company, on the other hand, claims that “the waste treatment plant in Izsák, just like it has been the last 20 years, is designed to treat the waste of 19 settlements in the region. As a result of the increasingly strict legal environment, we are developing the most advanced and complex waste management endpoint possible, meeting all the environmental challenges of the modern age, so that the regional service will be even more environmentally conscious”.
At a meeting of the local council on 23 January 2019, the mayor and the notary public stated that the planned facility will be composting green waste and handling inert (construction) waste. However, the expert who composed the council decision in writing “unfortunately forgot to include this clause in the contract that only a composting and construction waste treatment facility could really be built on the property. If this had not been the case, we would not have to protest against the two new landfills today” – said in a Facebook post István Varga, who launched the petition.
Varga ran as an independent mayoral candidate in the by-elections in Izsák on September 20. The election was won by his opponent, József Mondok, despite the fact that Mondok – who was mayor of Izsák for 21 years until October 2019 – is being prosecuted for budget fraud and other criminal acts.
Varga told Atlatszo.hu that Izsák has no interest in receiving waste from other settlements, and the protected area of the Kiskunság National Park is only 650 meters from the entrance to the landfill. According to Varga, there are protected grasslands within the landfill site. Lake Kolon is listed in the Ramsar Convention, because it is home to endangered fish species and to many waterfowl species.
We also wanted to know the position of József Mondok regarding the landfill, as its already existing part was built in Izsák during his time as mayor. The mayor, who won the interim election as a candidate of the governing Fidesz party, has not yet answered our questions. We also asked for the opinions of experts at the Kiskunság National Park, but we have not received an answer to our request from them either.
According to locals who signed the petition, the so-called leachate generated at the landfill does not only end up in the designated sewer, so it can damage the environment and the groundwater. One of the signatories of the petition told Atlatszo.hu that further problems could be caused by the fact that the “landfill gas” generated during the decomposition at the garbage hill has not been resolved at the Izsak site.
In response to Atlatszo.hu’s request, the regional waste management company, Duna-Tisza közi Hulladékgazdálkodási Nonprofit Kft. stated that the drainage of the leachate at the Izsák landfill was solved in accordance with the relevant regulations, but they have not answered our question about the drainage of the landfill gas.
Written and translated by Gabriella Horn, click here for the Hungarian version of this article. Drone video by Dániel Németh.