Paks expansion: MVM defeated - yet again
“It is the 99,999th time that we establish that the MVM is a public interest organization”, emphasised the judge at the proceedings where the Metropolitan Regional Court delivered its legally binding resolution obliging the Magyar Villamos Művek Zrt. (Hungarian Power Companies Ltd., MVM) to disclose data of the Lévai project pertaining to the planned expansion of the Paks nuclear power plant. The respondent shall disclose the information and documents specified in the Energiaklub Policy Institute’s data request within 15 days.
Summary of the events leading to the decision: the expansion of a nuclear power plant is a process of such importance that a range of vital issues must be cleared before its commencement. For example, what environmental, economic, social effects will the two new nuclear energy blocks have once they are built? How and by whom is the investment estimated to cost at least 2 to 3 billion forints (!) financed? How will energy consumption demand change in the next 10 years? The answers to these questions determine not only how the expansion should be done but whether the development should be started at all – whether such a gigantic project is safe, economical and justified. The Lévai project launched in 2009 aims to find these answers.
Considering the enormous costs of the planned project as estimated by experts, the Energiaklub was of the opinion that the process should be public and transparent from the start. Therefore, exercising the right to access data of public interest stipulated by law, the organization requested the most important data of the project from the MVM in January 2011. The MVM, claiming that the requested data are considered preparation material for decisions and contain business secrets, refused the request. The Energiaklub filed a lawsuit against the company.
The Metropolitan Regional Court agreed with the Energiaklub’s legal arguments and proceeded to state that the data should be disclosed – with slight modifications, but to almost full extent. The Metropolitan Regional Court claimed that the MVM had already provided the schedule and timeframe of the project, therefore it did not oblige the company to make these public. According to the legally binding resolution, the following data shall be disclosed: the planned total cost of the project; its results to date; data pertaining to the ratio of the MVM Holding’s companies participating (in proportion of employees taking part); a list of companies and organizations outside of the MVM Holding that may participate in the project; the list of contracts made in the framework of the project, including the subject of contracts, contracted payments and the contractual completion deadlines.
“We trust that the long line of lost lawsuits will make the members of the MVM Group realize that the rules ensuring the transparency of public funds apply to them, and instead of unnecessary legal battles they will fulfil their obligations in the future”, commented Levente Baltay, lawyer of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ) representing the claimant.
Another similar case was decided in favour of the Energiaklub recently. A data request was submitted for certain data of the Teller project launched in 2007 by the Paksi Atomerőmű Zrt. (MVM Paks Nuclear Power Plant Ltd.) and the MVM Zrt. in preparation of the planned nuclear power plant expansion. The resolution of the Court of Tolna County obliged the companies to disclose the data requested (the total cost of the project and the contracts made in its framework) in April 2011. On the 18th of January 2012, the Szekszárd City Court obliged the Paksi Atomerőmű Zrt. to disclose the studies and other results achieved in the Teller project. The documents sent to the Energiaklub to date can be downloaded from the Control Energy Program website (the documents are in Hungarian).
The Energiaklub Policy Institute was represented by the Legal aid service of the Hungarian Civil Liberties Union (TASZ).