battery industry

Government office grants permission to restart the battery processing plant in Bátonyterenye

The Nógrád County Government Office has cleared the way for the continued operation of the battery processing plant in Bátonyterenye. The plant, which was suspended last summer due to scandalous operations, met the conditions required to continue its activities, according to the Hungarian authorities.

We have previously reported on the scandalous operation of SungEel Hitech Hungary Kft’s battery processing plant several times. Last summer, the authorities suspended the plants’ activities, but a government decision in June allowed the company to resume waste processing in Bátonyterenye.

In a statement published on 12 June, the Nógrád County Government Office announced that the processing plant in Bátonyterenye could resume operations “under strict control of the authorities”.

According to the notice, the company had previously “repeatedly violated the rules on the operation and waste management, as it had breached the rules on waste disposal and documentation and had processed more waste than authorised”.

The company was fined six times, for more than HUF 100 million in total, and the operation of the Bátonyterenye site was suspended in August 2023.

We wanted to know exactly why the plant was suspended last summer. However, the decision to suspend its operation was not made public by the authority and could only be obtained through an FOI request. The document reveals that until the ban, SungEel Ltd. had committed the following irregularities:

  • marked the “Jelly roll” waste with a non-hazardous code to export it abroad (to South Korea),
  • illegally stored waste with the false code on its premises and transferred a significant part of it to an unauthorised contractor (thousands of tonnes of hazardous waste and graphite powder were stored in illegal warehouses in Iklad and Abasar, as well as in Aszód and Mohora),
  • dangerous organic compounds (dimethyl carbonate, diethyl carbonate, methyl ethyl carbonate, ethyl carbonate, ethylene carbonate) were detected in the working air of the plant in Bátonyterenye and dust samples taken in the hall.

According to a statement issued by the Government Office, the company has corrected the irregularities.

“The company can restart waste processing under Wednesday’s decision after having eliminated the infringing situation over the past 10 months, complied with the strict regulations, obtained the necessary permits and removed the waste ‘over-stored’ at the plant, under the continuous supervision of the authorities,” the text reads.

They added that regular and rigorous monitoring of compliance will be carried out. According to the environmental permit issued in 2023, 28,000 tonnes of battery waste can be processed annually in Bátonyterenye.

On its Facebook page, SungEel also reported on the work done to recover its licence, as well as the visit of the Nógrád County Disaster Management Directorate.

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The second plant of SungEel HiTech Hungary Kft. in the industrial park of Bátonyterenye on the day of its opening, 7 July 2021.
Source: MTI/Peter Komka

It took ten months to remove the waste

According to the decision to lift the suspension of operations, SungEel failed to comply with the conditions by 31 December 2023, so the company received a fine and the deadline for compliance changed to June this year. According to the licence, to continue its activities,

the company will have to report monthly on the type and quantity of waste collected, pre-treated and recovered.

However, the company only managed to get rid of the waste stored at the site without a permit after it received permission to ship it to South Korea.

The barrels full of stinking battery cells, stored in Abasar for almost a year, were only removed last week, the mayor stated in a Facebook post.

Tibor László Karácsony, an entrepreneur in Aszód has been fined 100 million HUF for endangering the environment and has been called on 44 times in the past 10 months to remove the waste stored in Abasar. However, the authorities did not say who finally took the drums away and where. The injunction, however, held the contractor and SungEel Ltd “jointly and severally liable” for the illegal waste storage.

Disaster management did not impose new conditions

It implies that, at least according to the authority, the company will be subject to stricter controls in the future. However, the processing plant was set up without consulting the residents concerned, and environmental and disaster prevention permits were only granted after the plant started operating and after the accidents.

The Zagyva River, an ecological corridor, is located 40 metres from the site in Bátonyterenye, and rainwater from the plant – where hazardous substances were stored irregularly – continues to be discharged into the Zagyva.

Since pollutants were found in the groundwater after an explosive accident, water authorities required the construction of two monitoring wells in the area of the site.

However, it is not known what safety measures will be taken to prevent new fires and explosions in the plant.

The Nógrád county disaster prevention authority, responsible for fire protection and industrial safety, only agreed to the re-authorisation of the plant but did not set new conditions – citing that the suspension was due to waste management and not disaster prevention failures.


Annex to the 2021 disaster management permit for the hazard zone of the SungEel Ltd. plant in Bátonyterenye. The inner zone includes residential buildings and the Zagyva River, an ecological corridor, is 40 m from the site (Source: Annex 1 of the disaster management permit).

The Safety Report and Internal Protection Plan of the plant have not been published, we are trying to obtain them through a FOI request.

Residents of Bátonyterenye have previously protested against the operation of the plant. As a result, SungEel Kft. organised a visit to the plant in April this year – only residents with a residential address card could participate in the visit – to present the favourable changes that have taken place there.

At the same time, police procedures initiated following István Orosz’s report regarding accidents, environmental hazards and illegally stored waste are ongoing.

From October, there will also be a change in the mayor of the town of Bátonyterenye. István Orosz, who made the complaint, ran as a mayoral candidate in the municipal election and won the election against the former mayor József Nagy-Majdon, who got 41,7 per cent of the voters, while Orosz received 49,4 per cent.

Written and translated by Zsuzsa Bodnár. The original, Hungarian version of this story can be found here. The article was produced with the support of the Union Values Programme.