Hungarian official unhappy with Romanian handling of pollution, to visit

BUDAPEST, Jul 26, 2000 -- (BBC) Excerpts from report by Hungarian radio on 26th July

[Presenter] Signs of the latest pollution incident in Romania were not observed this morning on the Szamos river at Csenger [in northeastern Hungary, at the border with Romania].

A greatly-diluted spill containing chlorine and sulphur derivatives, as well as iron, zinc and copper was - and is - expected to reach the border...

The latest spill was the main subject of today's discussions at the Balvanyos summer university [in Baile Tusnad, Romania]. Levente Suekoesd reports:

[Suekoesd] I will go to Nagybanya [Baia Mare, western Romania] today to familiarize myself on the spot with the latest pollution incident at Herzsabanya [Hungarian name for mine in wester Romania] which comes under the jurisdiction of the Remin [phonetic] state enterprise, Janos Goenczy, [Hungarian] government commission for the Tisza, said today at the Balvanyos summer university.

There is no sense of responsibility at Romanian industrial enterprises. The managers are not interested in whether they are polluting the environment. They place their trust in the bureaucratic shuffling of files, in administrative delays and in a failure to call people to account, and practice shows that they have grounds for doing so, Janos Goenczy added.

What I observed most recently at the company in Nagybanya is distressing. They are continuing to work with water cannon 100 meters from the village, and children are allowed to play even now, one meter from the site.

I am not reassured whatsoever, Janos Goenczy said, adding that if this continues there could be serious trouble. Hungary could be hit any time by another very serious environmental catastrophe from Romania.

It is very probable there will be no compensation money within five-to-10 years; the general assembly of the Esmeralda company [based in Australia, owns majority share in the Romanian company behind the cyanide pollution in January-February this year] adjourned its discussion of the Hungarian compensation claim for 29.3bn forints, and legal action cannot be taken as long as the company is under liquidation proceedings.

Source: Hungarian Radio, Budapest, in Hungarian 1000 GMT 26 Jul 00.

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