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168 eight ‘‘Building a Castle out of Shit’’ The Wastelands of the New Europe Somehow we never manage to make use of free monies. To wit, we would have received 66 billion Forints [about $300 million] from the [European] Union, of which we so far have managed to use 3.7 billion, that is, four percent of the funds. For example, we will throw six billion out the window by the end of the year if we don’t find locations for two regional waste dumps, one in northeastern Pest [County], and one on the northern shore of Lake Balaton. And it does seem like we won’t succeed. To wit, in Pest County, the residents of Püspökszilágy, Sződ, Kosd és Kartal so far have said, ‘‘no and no, they want no stinking garbage heaps.’’ Because Hungarians fear for their nests—they associate garbage with putrid dung heaps. They are not moved by illegal waste dumps, on which things that rot are rotting, but if they can vote, then a sudden sense of responsibility erupts from them, and they become Greens. And all this because they don’t believe that if the dumps are completed they will conform to the strictest environmental standards, and that the multiple [layers of ] insulation will ensure that nothing will ever come out of them. ([spider] 2003) The above quote is only the most colloquially worded opinion of many in the Hungarian media on the never-ending struggle of villages to avoid becoming hosts to toxic waste facilities since the early 1990s. The usual cast of these stories consists of, on the one hand, irrational and stupid villagers, ‘‘Building a Castle out of Shit’’ 169 who are seen as having dirty habits and blamed as the reason the country cannot get the money it deserves and so badly needs in order to develop; and on the other hand, the benevolent and generous European Union with high environmental standards. As for the Greens, they are lumped together with the backward and renegade villagers, rather than with progressive Europe. By the time this report was written in 2003, the Greens had long ceased to be the agents of progress and conscience, the heroes who had much to do with the collapse of state socialism. In this chapter, in addition to calling attention to the paradoxes and environmental consequences of the chemical regime, I will also explain how this change in the Greens’ role happened in Hungary. First let us review the consequences of privatization in Garé. Incineration and the Taboo of Waste Production Ending the state’s ownership of BCW’s waste was unfortunate for two reasons. First of all, it became harder to justify using state funds (such as the Environmental Protection Fund) to clean up Garé’s dump, even though that might have been the quicker solution. Second, with this development, the earlier plan to build a state-owned incinerator in Garé irreversibly lost its rationale. To the extent that, in contrast to state-owned facilities that are run as public utility companies, privatized and profit-oriented incinerators strive to operate at the fullest possible capacity, the choice of entrepreneurial solutions is likely to have significant environmental impacts. The pressure to run an incinerator at maximum capacity not only intensifies the environmental burden of the facility but also has the effect of expanding the circle of ‘‘wastes to be liquidated by incineration.’’ This, in turn, weakens even further efforts to reduce and recycle wastes. Such a tendency could already be detected in the siting controversy of Hungaropec—the joint venture that would have built the incinerator in Garé. The TCB waste and the contaminated soil could have been incinerated in two years if these wastes were burned alone. Hungaropec, knowing that BCW would not be able to pay for the incineration in two years, expected to burn other wastes simultaneously with the TCB waste; but even in this case, five years would have been sufficient to eliminate the drums. Afterwards, Hungaropec would have had to scramble to find enough wastes to run its 17,000 tons of annual capacity at the highest possible utilization rate. Anticipating that the low volume of regionally available wastes need- privatize and incinerate (1985 – present) 170 ing incineration could be an argument against its planned incinerator, Hungaropec commissioned a private firm to carry out a survey among waste producers in Baranya to estimate the demand. Hungaropec, however , treated this information confidentially...


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