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Brazil plans to sue mining companies US$ 7.2bn on toxic mud spill

Sunday, November 29th 2015 - 09:51 UTC
Full article 8 comments
Izabella Teixeira said the suit will be filed on Monday and proceeds will be put in a fund and used for environmental cleanup in the Rio Doce valley Izabella Teixeira said the suit will be filed on Monday and proceeds will be put in a fund and used for environmental cleanup in the Rio Doce valley
The dense orange sediment in the river reached the ocean on the weekend, hurting local tourist businesses and coastal fishing The dense orange sediment in the river reached the ocean on the weekend, hurting local tourist businesses and coastal fishing
UN human rights agency said the mud from the dam burst was toxic; Samarco and BHP claim that waste posed no risk to human health. UN human rights agency said the mud from the dam burst was toxic; Samarco and BHP claim that waste posed no risk to human health.

Brazil's federal and state governments plan to sue the owners of the Samarco iron ore-miner for 20 billion Reais ($7.2 billion) in damages caused by the burst of a tailings dam, Environment Minister Izabella Teixeira told reporters on Friday.

 Samarco is a joint venture between the world's largest mining company, BHP Billiton, and the biggest iron ore miner, Brazil's Vale. The dam burst earlier this month unleashed 60 million cubic metres of mud and mine waste that devastated a village, killed at least 13 people and polluted a major river valley.

Teixeira said the suit will be filed on Monday. The proceeds will be put in a fund and used for environmental cleanup in the Rio Doce valley over 10 years, Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams said.

Samarco has already been fined 250 million Reais by Brazil's environmental agency, Ibama, for the disaster, which covered the flood plain in mud for 80 kilometres as well as polluting the river. Fish died and drinking water supplies for a quarter of a million people had to be closed off.

Ibama is planning additional fines against Samarco on top of the 20 billion Reais in damages and clean-up charges the government is seeking, Adams said, but he did not specify an amount. The dense orange sediment in the river reached the ocean on the weekend, hurting local tourist businesses.

The United Nations' human rights agency said on Wednesday that the mud from the dam burst was toxic, contradicting claims by Samarco and BHP that the water and mineral waste posed no risk to human health.

The minister announced the lawsuit after the close of the Sao Paulo stock market. The share price of co-owner Vale fell 5.78 per cent on Friday.

Vale and BHP announced earlier on Friday that they would create a fund with Samarco to help in the clean-up of the Rio Doce and its tributaries affected by the disaster. They did not detail the size of the recovery fund.

Top Comments

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  • redp0ll

    Sure the companies should be fined but it doesn't really hurt them. If those responsible faced a sentence in a really tough jail it might just dissuade them.
    Iibama the environmental agency should have been monitoring the activities of these companies on a continuous basis. Why didn't they? Or has someone been paid off to turn a blind eye to what was going on?

    Nov 29th, 2015 - 02:18 pm 0
  • Briton

    Very good point.

    Nov 29th, 2015 - 07:36 pm 0
  • yankeeboy

    How and why would the UN human rights agency know anything about water toxicity?

    We need to disband the UN.
    Useless bureaucrats always sticking thier nose where it doesn't belong.

    Nov 29th, 2015 - 09:09 pm 0
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