A Public Forum was Held regarding the CATL Battery Factory

Mayor of Debrecen László Papp said that it was very important to provide credible information about the project, which is larger in scale than any other economic development project to date.

Photo credit: Facebook (Papp László)

A public hearing and a public forum on the CATL battery factory were held on Monday at the Kölcsey Centre. Approximately 800 people attended the public forum on the battery factory in Debrecen.

Mayor of Debrecen László Papp said that for each step, the advantages and disadvantages of investments are weighed up and are only supported if the benefits significantly outweigh the disadvantages, and this was also true for the CATL battery factory.

He added that recent press reports about the battery industry are not always correct. For example, there have often been illustrative pictures of thick smoke billowing from the chimneys of the factories, which is not typical of battery plants. Some, however, cited the battery factory in Göd as an example of their concerns that the factory will have a negative impact on their health.

The mayor spoke about the huge figures (40,000 cubic meters per day) circulating on social media before the official procedure, even though the Debrecen General Assembly had already decided that the entire Southern Economic Zone could use a maximum of 24,000 cubic meters of water.

The first phase of the CATL would use 3,000 cubic meters of water per day, much of which would be used for cooling, it would not pollute, and a significant part of the water demand, 60-70%, would be met by gray water, i.e., treated wastewater.

László Papp also rejected the assumption that there was a link between the Civaqua program and Debrecen’s economic development processes, as the Civaqua program is a purely ecological project – the conditions of use are also tied to EU support.

In his presentation, Antal Tamás Pintér, Director of the Hajdú-Bihar County Directorate for Disaster Management, said that the basis for the building permit would be the safety report, and the risks for the operator will be identified in an internal security plan. In the second step, a public protection plan will be prepared, followed by a public information brochure and the definition of a danger zone.

Balázs Szilágyi, CATL’s head of public affairs, presented the history of the company and its investment in Debrecen. He said that landscaping has started and that they would like to start series production in 2025.

István Kelemen, an expert from CK-Trikolor, said that they have been preparing safety documentation for their customers operating hazardous industrial technologies since 2001 and have compiled nearly three hundred safety reports and analyses; they work with the best, most approved software. He said that all the questions from the public received so far in the official procedure have been answered.

All facilities and areas on site where hazardous substances may be present were analyzed in the safety report, with detailed analysis covering transport, dumping, storage, and use.

The largest quantity of lithium nickel cobalt manganese oxide (NMC) used will be in powder form in big bags, moved into the building in a confined space, and transported there and between buildings in a confined space so that it is not released into the environment.

The expert said that CATL’s investment in Debrecen poses no risk to individuals or society.

In the event of an accident, no hazardous material would escape from the factory site, nor would there be any accident in the surrounding factories that could endanger the CATL factory. He added that the floor of the factory would be made of a material that would prevent any spillage from the production process from entering the ground in the event of a problem. He said that the factory will have a separate safety and fire alarm center and that the plant’s activities will be monitored from the central control room, from where intervention will be directed if there is a problem. 

Mayor of Debrecen László Papp said that the decision on the CATL investment was taken this year and that a public forum was being held. He believes that the development of both BMW and CATL will positively impact the city’s future. He believes that young people left Debrecen in the past because they did not have the right jobs and that the economic development process was launched to give young people a perspective.