Acc. to clause c) of Paragraph (5) of Article 41 of the Act LIII of 1995 on the general rules of environmental protection it is the environmental responsibility of the Government to eliminate the consequences of significant environmental damage, if this responsibility may not be diverted to another party. Acc. to the above-mentioned act the National Environmental Protection Program was elaborated, Appendix 7 of which specifies the National Environmental Remediation Program (hereinafter referred to as “OKKP”) on the remediation of permanent environmental damages and polluted sites pertaining to state responsibility. The establishment of the OKKP in 1995 accelerated the implementation of remediation projects, especially of those pertaining to state responsibility.
The OKKP includes also the individual remediation tasks, the implementation of which is the responsibility of the minister in charge (acc. to the distribution of tasks and responsibilities within state administration) in the framework of sub-programs (Government Decree 33/2000. (III. 17.) Korm.). Sub-programs aim at the remediation of state property under the direction of the relevant state estate administrator. Examples for sub-programs are the Solid mineral mining sub-program of the Ministry of Economy and Transport, the MÁV sub-program, the sub-program of the Ministry of Defence, etc. The implementation costs of the sub-programs are included in the budget of the responsible ministries.
Although the assessment of several pollution sources and the remediation in several other fields of mining (uranium, coal, bauxite, etc.) had started before, the full-scale assessment of the environmental damage left behind by solid mineral mining began only in 1997 in the framework of the OKKP with the co-operation of the Ministry for Industry, Commerce and Tourism.
The solid mineral mining sub-program includes the following phases:
1. The elimination of environmental damage left behind by coal mining
The Government provided for the structural changes of coal mining, in particular for the elimination of environmental damage left behind in the course of mine closing and for the allocation of the necessary funds in the Government Decision 3329/1990. Korm. A detailed “cadastre of environmental damage” was elaborated for the whole range of coal mining. The elimination of environmental damage is in progress acc. to plan under the direction of the SZÉSZEK and funded by the state.
2. Uranium mining
The Government issued the Gov. Decision 2085/1997. (IV. 3.) Korm. on the termination of uranium mining in the Mecsek mountains and the implementation of mine closing, country planning and environmental tasks under accentuated state responsibility. The decision was grounded by an environmental impact assessment study, as well as by the Investment Program elaborated on its basis aiming at the full-scale elimination of environmental damage caused by Hungarian uranium ore mining and production. In the Government Decision 2385/1997. (XI. 26.) Korm. (amended by the Gov. Decision 2006/2001. (II. 17.)) the Government approved the proposal on the investment of the recultivation tasks deriving from the termination of the Hungarian uranium ore mining as an investment of special importance.
3. Other branches of solid ore mining
A summary of the coloured metal mines, stone, gravel and sand pits not included in the list of coal and uranium mining objects recorded by the SZÉSZEK was compiled under consideration of the responsibilities.
Uranium ore mining and production had been carried out for 42 years causing significant environmental damage. Sites are polluted to such an extent, that without human intervention they may induce non-reversible processes in environmental elements.
The study “Plan for the termination of the uranium ore mining in the Mecsek mountains”, prepared in 1996 deals with all objects having an impact on environmental elements. The study considers international practice and Hungarian regulations. After the approval of the study it served as a basis for the elaboration of the impact assessment, in which it was stated, that the recultivation of the mine should be carried out within the following 5 years (reckoned from 1998 acc. to the Investment Program).
The so-called “Mine Code” applies to the remedial and recultivation works of uranium ore mining. Further, acc. to the regulations in force, the environmental impact assessment of the closing of the uranium ore mine had to be carried out prior to the start of the licensing procedure by the mine authority. The Mecsek Oremining Company (Mecseki Ércbányászati Vállalat) handed in the “Impact assessment study of the termination of uranium ore mining in the Mecsek mountains” in 1997, and the South-Transdanubian Environmental Inspectorate issued the Environmental Permit. Subsequently the remediation was carried out, the mine was closed and the related yearly plans of operation were elaborated and licensed by the Mining District Authority of Pécs. In the course of the environmental state assessment the impact of mining and ore production on environmental elements was investigated, with regard to the potential pressure that recultivation may pose on the environment and to the environmental status that would evolve without remediation.
Following to the licensing of their closure full-scale inventories of the mine-objects in question were prepared, and the tasks to carry out were reviewed with regard to the internationally applied ALARA principle, i. e. that costs and the risk posed on human health should be minimized.
The termination of uranium ore mining required a lot of professional knowledge the company was in lack of. Two ways of gaining information were possible: international co-operation and own research-development projects.
Both possibilities were used. The company started a co-operation with the International Atomic Energy Agency in the frame of a Phare program and joined the IAEA research projects. Experts learnt to know international experience in the field of recultivation and the modernisation of the equipment was enabled with the help of the program.
The results of the remediation works are presented acc. to the structure of the Investment Program:
Schedule of the remediation and recultivation works was determined by the selection of the most feasible and economical technical solutions. First the underground installations were abandoned, at the same time remediation started and buildings were dismounted and removed in the opencasts.
In the first three years of the Investment Program the percolation wastes were transported to waste-pit Nr. III, where they were covered by soil and implanted (1997-99).
Wells for the extraction of polluted water around mud-ponds were set into operation and at the same time the Chemical Water Treatment Plant (Kémiai Vízkezelő Üzem) for the cleaning of these waters was established.
In order to protect the water resources of Tortyogó operational water extraction Nr. I continued. The Pit Water Treatment Plant (Bányavízkezelő Üzem) was established in the area of the Environmental Basis (Környezetvédelmi Bázis) to clean pit water from uranium.
A uniform water treatment system for the collection and drainage of polluted water in the whole impact area was established.
The covering and implantation of mud pits is still in progress in 2003.
Hydrogeological, radiological, soil and geodynamical investigations are being carried out in the course of a complex environmental supervision activity in the impact area.
Recultivated objects need further surveillance after the termination of the Investment Program. Monitoring, aftercare, water extraction and treatment are necessary in the following decades.
The following table shows the schedule and costs (planned and actual costs) of the remediation tasks carried out after the termination of uranium ore mining and production:
| Projects || 1998-2001 || 2002 || 2003 |
| Planned costs
| Actual costs
| Planned costs
| Actual annual costs
| Program of measures
| Investment Program
|| Program of measures
|| Investment Program
|| Program of measures
Abandonment of the underground installations
|2 889 349 000||2 485 178 000||2 343 049 635||0||0||0||0|
Recultivation of the outcast installations and sites
|1 778 942 000||1 843 974 000||1 565 462 697||602 252 000||287 000 000||320 518 576||50 000 000|
Recultivation of the waste pits and their environment
|358 686 000||676 702 000||662 763 102||260 107 000||200 750 000||82 543 192||40 000 000|
Recultivation of percolation pits and their environment
|1 981 872 000||1 852 431 000||1 880 036 404||25 813 000||30 644 000||18 930 305||0|
Recultivation of mud-ponds and their environment
|5 325 237 000||3 969 583 000||2 421 560 645||2 141 258 000||2 266 101 000||1 868 919 359||946 000 000|
Pit water treatment
|524 715 000||1 340 170 000||1 335 701 496||86 043 000||237 300 000||242 338 202||0|
Reconstruction of the power supply system
|635 140 000||62 000 000||125 918 352||0||0||0||0|
Reconstruction of the water and sewage system
|84 062 000||1 000 000||100 043 179||0||0||0||0|
|547 116 000||476 660 000||470 672 520||102 605 000||47 728 000||47 329 000||0|
|924 372 000||1 584 334 000||1 441 607 502||227 009 000||430 477 000||368 411 968||109 000 000|
||15 049 491 000||14 292 032 000||12 346 815 532||3 445 087 000||3 500 000 000||2 948 990 602||1 145 000 000|