Employees of the Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority (HAEA) participated in the Paks II project, according to an investigative article published by the Hungarian G7 news portal based on the suspicions highlighted by Greenpeace Hungary. This could be a severe breach of European legislation concerning nuclear safety. Greenpeace Hungary sent an open letter to HAEA, while Greens-EFA MEP Benedek Jávor turned to the European Commission to resolve the issue.
A few days ago we reported suspicions that certain HAEA employees (Szabolcs Hullán incumbent Deputy director general, Péter Pál Babics and András Tóth) worked for MVM Paks II. Zrt. – the company responsible for the construction and operation of the planned new nuclear reactors – back in 2013.
The Hungarian Atomic Energy Authority is the guardian of Hungarian nuclear safety. Accordingly, employees of the authority may not hold any form of interest in a nuclear project they ought to supervise.
Similarly, would it not be outrageous if employees of a pharmaceutical company would sit in the authority which controls and permits the use of their medicines?
The case of Szabolcs Hullán is quite similar to that who, in 2013, had been – indirectly – contracted by MVM Paks II. Zrt. A nuclear safety expert as he may be, he was already head of the Department of Supervision of HAEA, and became Deputy director general of the authority since then. Hullán took part in issuing the site permit of Paks II and will play a role in permitting the new nuclear reactor units – which is about checking whether the site of Paks II and the plans and blueprints of the power plant comply with all the relevant legislations and nuclear safety requirements.
Szabolcs Hullán is a senior executive of HAEA, whose independence should be upheld to the highest standards. Mr Hullán’s former contractual relations to MVM Paks II. Zrt. however raise serious concerns.
On the inquiry of the news portal G7, the Hungarian Academy of Sciences (MTA), HAEA and Paks II. Zrt. confirmed that HAEA employees worked for Paks II in line with the contracts the company had with the Hungarian Academy of Sciences Centre for Energy Research (MTA EK).
Last September, following two and a half years of governmental manoeuvring, 255 contracts of MVM Paks II. Zrt. were finally made public. Processing the thousands of pages of documents will take a long while, not only because of the vast amount of text but also because of the required professional knowledge to understand the specific agreements and orders. It is however very worrying that there is a contract where senior officials of the supposedly independent authority can be identified.
The position of Greenpeace Hungary is that these issues may have breached Council Directive 2009/71/Euratom. As Article 5, “Competent regulatory authority” reads,
2. Member States shall ensure that the competent regulatory authority is functionally separate from any other body or organisation concerned with the promotion, or utilisation of nuclear energy, including electricity production, in order to ensure effective independence from undue influence in its regulatory decision making.
On 1 March 2018, Greenpeace Hungary sent an open letter to HAEA Director general Mr Gyula Fichtinger to urgently clarify the issues raised, and to take action so that the independence of HAEA will be guaranteed in the future.
On the same day, MEP Benedek Jávor of The Greens-EFA turned to the Directorate-General for Energy of the European Commission to investigate the possible breach of Euratom Treaty.
The seriousness of the issue is evident: one of the reasons for the Fukushima catastrophe was also that the supervising authority had not done its work properly.
It is not the intent of Greenpeace Hungary to defame the persons mentioned in this article. Our sole aim is to ensure the guarantees of the nuclear safety of Hungary in a way that is reassuring for the entire Hungarian society.