Hungary court acquits 15 employees connected to 2010 toxic red sludge spill

[JURIST] A Hungarian court on Thursday acquitted [press release, in Hungarian] 15 employees of the Mal Corp for their role in the toxic red sludge spill that killed 10 people in 2010 after a reservoir burst. The spill, which was one of the worst environmental disasters of the nation, with more 1 million cubic meters [AP report] of the sludge destroying hundreds of homes, took years of clean-up and cost 40 billion forints (USD $140 million). Many neighborhoods had to be demolished and rebuilt. After the spill, Mal Corp, facing blame for the incident, was taken over by the government. Several have expressed discontent with the ruling, such as Greenpeace [advocacy website] saying that while no one has been held responsible for the spill, "it is obvious that human negligence led to the catastrophe." It is unclear whether the ruling will be appealed.

Hungarian Prime Minister Viktor Orban [official website, in Hungarian] announced in 2010 that police had arrested [JURIST report] Mal Corp CEO Zoltan Bakonyi on criminal negligence charges for the company's role in the chemical spill [CNN backgrounder]. Orban also announced an emergency law [MTI-ECO report] that was easily passed [Reuters report] allowing the government to take control of Mal Corp, which owned the plant from which the spill originated.

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