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Parliamentary questions
1 March 2011
E-011083/2010
Answer given by Mr Potočnik on behalf of the Commission

Based on the data provided by the Hungarian authorities regarding the granting of the permit for the MAL alumina production plant (as foreseen in Directive 2008/1/EC of Parliament and of the Council of 15 January 2008 concerning integrated pollution prevention and control(1)), which indicate that two samples of red mud were taken and pH values of 11.3 and 11.8 respectively were measured, the Commission considers that this waste should have been classified as hazardous given the highly corrosive properties of the waste(2). Consequently, appropriate requirements should have been established thereto for the correct treatment of this waste. In addition, the pH values (up to 13.8) measured in rivers contaminated by the red mud after the accident also suggest that the red mud should have been classified as hazardous.

The Commission has been informed by the Hungarian authorities that the alumina plant is operating again. The Commission is closely monitoring the situation in order to make sure that the operations are fully compliant with the applicable EU environmental legislation.

There are indications that Directive 2006/21/EC of Parliament and of the Council of 15 March 2006 on the management of waste from extractive industries(3) has not been correctly transposed into national Hungarian law. As a consequence, the Hungarian authorities have considered that the red mud (which is directly coming from the treatment of a mineral resource as defined under Article 3.8 of Directive 2006/21/EC) does not fall under the scope of the directive. The Commission is currently assessing the case and will take appropriate follow up action in due course. In this context, Hungary may have to make the necessary legislative changes to its national legislation transposing the directive while the possibility of launching a legal proceeding might not be excluded.

(1)OJ L 24, 29.1.2008.
(2)Commission Directive 2001/59/EC adapting to technical progress for the 28th time Council Directive 67/548/EEC on the approximation of the laws, regulations and administrative provisions relating to the classification, packaging and labelling of dangerous substances states that ‘a substance or a preparation should also be considered corrosive if the result can be predicted, for example from strongly acid or alkaline reactions indicated by a pH of 2 or less or 11.5 or greater’.
(3)OJ L 102, 11.4.2006.

OJ C 279 E, 23/09/2011
Last updated: 25 March 2011Legal notice