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Montevideo, November 21st 2017 - 15:42 UTC

Criminal charges against mining companies involved in major waste spill in Brazil

Friday, January 15th 2016 - 12:24 UTC
Full article 5 comments
Federal police accuse Vale, mine operator Samarco and company officials including Samarco's CEO Ricardo Vescovi, of violating Brazil's environmental crimes law Federal police accuse Vale, mine operator Samarco and company officials including Samarco's CEO Ricardo Vescovi, of violating Brazil's environmental crimes law
Samarco, which runs the mine, is a joint venture between Vale and Australia's BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining firm. Samarco, which runs the mine, is a joint venture between Vale and Australia's BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining firm.
The contaminated water and mud traveled down the Doce river into the Atlantic Ocean, killing thousands of animals and devastating swaths of tropical rainforest. The contaminated water and mud traveled down the Doce river into the Atlantic Ocean, killing thousands of animals and devastating swaths of tropical rainforest.

Police in Brazil said Thursday they have brought criminal charges against two mining companies and seven executives over a mine waste spill that buried a village and killed 17 people.Federal police accuse Brazilian iron ore giant Vale, mine operator Samarco and company officials including Samarco's chief executive, Ricardo Vescovi, of violating Brazil's environmental crimes law in connection with the disastrous November 5 collapse of a waste reservoir.

 The law provides for prison sentences of up to five years for environmental contamination that “causes or may cause damage to human health or cause the death of animals or significant destruction of plant life.”

Samarco, which runs the mine, is a joint venture between Vale and Australia's BHP Billiton, the world's largest mining firm. All three companies have been under fire since the dam burst at the waste reservoir, which unleashed a torrent of muddy water that virtually wiped out the village of Bento Rodrigues and polluted water supplies across a large swath of southeastern Brazil.

In addition to the 17 killed, two people are still missing.

The contaminated water and mud traveled down the Doce river into the Atlantic Ocean, killing thousands of animals and devastating large swaths of protected tropical rainforest.

Police also brought charges against the security chief charged with monitoring the dams and the engineer who inspected them in 2015. Vale said it was “surprised” by the charges.

“The federal police's assumptions about Vale's supposed responsibility are based on premises that do not have an actual causal connection with the accident,” it said in a statement. Samarco likewise said the cause of the disaster was still unclear.

The Brazilian government is suing Samarco and its owners for US$5.2 billion to pay damages to victims and clean up the river basin.

Categories: Politics, Brazil.

Top Comments

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  • ChrisR

    If I were the Police Officer who brought the charges I would like to see the Engineer's mandate and the report before I decided if ANY charges were to be filed.

    On the face of it, particularly as the cause of the failure has not, even now. been determined just WHY were charges filed?

    Jan 16th, 2016 - 02:03 pm 0
  • Don Alberto

    No doubt it was “an act of God”, as is the standar excuse from mining companies, which are too greedy to ensure the safety of their dams.

    “Officials of Pittston Coal claimed the flood was ”an act of God“, as they argued that there was nothing wrong with the dam except that it couldn’t hold all of the water ”God poured into it.“”
    http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/buffalo.html#Problem

    .
    “The disaster killed 123 people, injured 1,000, and left 4000 homeless. Pittston Coal claimed it was ”an act of god“.”
    http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/buffalo.html#Problem

    “In memory of thos who died in The Buffalo Creek Flood February 26 1972”
    http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/buffalo.html#Problem
    .

    Hydro-Quebec officials refused to accept responsibility, callously calling the deaths “mainly an act of God”
    http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/buffalo.html#Problem

    “Martin County Coal Corp. claimed on Nov. 29, 2000, in a court document that the massive spill was ”an act of God“, the occurrence of which was not within the control of the company.”
    http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/buffalo.html#Problem

    2012, Manila, Philippines – 20 million tons of mine waste was released into the environment after a dam failure. The Balog river was left biologically dead. Philex mining corporation claimed they had not breached environmental regulations. The abnormally heavy rains, they claim, were an ‘act of God.’
    http://www.umich.edu/~snre492/Jones/buffalo.html#Problem

    Any judge with personal integrity will order the company to bring this Mr. God to court. If the person doesn't show up and assume responsibility, the claimants must be charged with perjury and blasphemy.

    Jan 16th, 2016 - 02:29 pm 0
  • yankeeboy

    Criminal should be a very high bar.
    Sometimes things happen that are no fault to anyone.

    Jan 18th, 2016 - 05:09 pm 0
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