Sludge flood – Faulted company says gov’t blame too early

Budapest, November 6 (MTI) – The Hungarian Aulimium Production and Trading Company (Mal), whose red sludge reservoir burst and flooded three villages in eastern Hungary last month, said on Saturday that the government had named Mal as responsible for the disaster before final expert opinions or court rulings were made available.

A government decree announced in the official government gazette on Friday said a compensation procedure would be initiated against Mal for causing the accident.

    Mal’s legal representative told MTI that it is shocking and stands without example that the government decides who is responsible for the accident. It is unacceptable that such a decision is made when no final expert opinions are available, said Gyorgy Ruttner.

    On October 22, Mal offered to pay without a lawsuit several million forints to each of the families who lost family members in the chemical spill that hit three villages in early October. However, Gyorgy Bakondi, the government commissioner appointed to supervise Mal, said on the following day that he would prohibit the company from making any agreements with victims outside the court.            

    Ruttner said the company had not paid the victims’ families the money offered in order not to contradict Bakondi’s decision.

    Altogether ten people have died as a result of the chemical spill on October 4 and 17 victims are still being treated in hospital.

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