The law on nationalising the company MAL Zrt was passed with 336 votes in favour, one against and 13 abstentions. It was immediately enacted by the country's president, Pal Schmitt.
Prime Minister Viktor Orbán also announced the arrest of the company's CEO, Zoltán Bakonyi, who stands accused of endangering the public and harming the environment.
The law stipulates that the government must freezes all MAL's assets and appoint a new board. Government sources said the company would be headed by Gyorgy Bakondi, head of the government's disaster response service.
Reportedly, as well as being responsible for maintaining operations and protecting jobs, Bakondi will also be in charge of determining the company's responsibilities, launching a compensation scheme for the victims and making sure that similar accidents do not happen again.
According to reports, MAL Zrt has a turnover of 157 million euros. The company is co-owned by Árpád Bakonyi, Lajos Tolnay and Béla Petrusz, all three of whom appear in a list of the 30 richest people in Hungary. The Hungarian press puts the fortune of Tolnay at 85 million euros, while Bakonyi and Petrusz are estimated to have 61 million euros each.
European Commission President José Manuel Barroso was in Hungary yesterday for a meeting with Orbán. The ecological catastrophe was on their agenda and Barroso reportedly reiterated the EU's promise of assistance and help. Five EU decontamination experts arrived in Hungary on 11 October to advise the Hungarian authorities and help prevent another spill from the damaged reservoir.
"I was deeply shocked by the scale of the environmental damage caused by this accident, but I am also delighted by the rapid and effective efforts deployed by the Hungarian authorities towards the affected region, to prevent further tragedies and to limit the extent possible of contamination of natural lives," Barroso said.
He also announced that Crisis Response Commissioner Kristalina Georgieva would come in the next few weeks to Hungary and visit the site of the tragedy.