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Bige to shut down Hungaryʼs only artificial fertilizer plant

Authorities have suspended the operating license of Hungary’s only artificial fertilizer plant because of repeated compliance failure, yet the factoryʼs owner believes there are more sinister reasons behind the decision, and plans to shut it down, according to multiple reports.

Farmer spreading fertiliser on a carrot crop. Photo by Aleksandar Milutinovic/Shutterstock

The plant, in Szolnok (118 km southeast of Budapest), owned by Bige Holding, has failed to meet the conditions for safe operation, Ádám Németh, a spokesman for the Jász-Nagykun-Szolnok County Disaster Management Directorate said. The suspension could last for as long as 90 days, according to press reports.

Scorched earth?

Plant owner László Bige, originally born in Romania but now one of Hungary’s richest businessmen, told a commercial television broadcaster that he will shut the plant down permanently, resulting in a loss of some 250 jobs, if the situation is not resolved in the coming week.

Bige also hinted that he believes somebody is trying to get his hands on his factory, and that is the real reason behind his troubles. "I know exactly what they are doing and who is doing it," he said. "The police, the prosecution, and the state bureaucrats set out against me due to the urging of one person," he alleged.

According to news portal Népszava, Bige later confirmed he would be shutting down the plant and said that anybody is free to take the non-functional factory which has lost its markets, after he has concluded payouts for those who are made redundant due to the shutdown. 

Last November, police launched an investigation at the plant on suspicion of violations of waste management regulations and other unspecified illegal activities. The local government office said at the time that Bige Holding had not been fined for environmental violations in past years.

Bige Holding responded to the November probe by saying the management and staff of the plant had cooperated fully with the authorities.