The Court Has Again Ruled in Favor of Making Public the Paks Damage-recovery Data

In the repeated first instance proceedings, the Metropolitan Court has ruled in favor of the Energy Club (green NGO) and has obligated the Nuclear Safety Directorate of the Hungarian Atomic Energy Agency (OAH) to make public the application submitted by Paks Nuclear Power Plant Ltd. to OAH for damage-recovery. The almost 2 year long legal battle is not yet over, since the defendant will probably appeal the decision. The Energy Club was represented by HCLU attorney, András Schiffer.

The Energy Club has requested the OAH to make public the permit application for damage-recovery, which the Paks Nuclear Plant has submitted after the 2003 plant malfunction. The environment protection organization wanted to find out how great the environmental risk of the damage-immunization would be. The court stated, that despite the defendent's argument, OAH is an organization handling public-interest data, even though parts of the requested data was acquired from outside of the administration organization system. Neither did the court accept the arguement of the defendent that the requested data has been denied due to it being preparatory data for decision-making and thus considered not public. However, the court did except the arguement of the plaintiff, that the data is not part of the decision-making process.

The defendent has also argued that parts of the submitted application should be considered intellectual property. To justify this, the defendent stated that auxiliary documents which are fundamental to the substantive contents of the permit application, were completed by assigned companies and organizations who did not consent to making public the document. This is not grounds for denial of access - said the court in it's decision - because protection is aimed at defending the personal and financial intrests, but merely publishing the contents does not violate rights.

The defendent has offered to bear witness to the requested data being considered as business-secret. The witness has testified that even though nuclear malfunctions are rare, these types of occurences are known by other nuclear plants as well. This means that it can not be classified as a business secret. Out of the 81 auxiliary documents, the court only found 24 to be qualified for protection, due to those containing unique, specified information on the damage-recovery and fuel cells.

The court has accepted that some calculus methods are to be considered know-how, therefore are to be protected. The requested data however has to be made public with the protected data made unrecognizable.

The HCLU welcomes the court's decision, which endorses prime necessities of environmental information to become public for future generations.

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