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Norwegian company in Brazil apologizes for toxic spill into a local river

Tuesday, March 20th 2018 - 10:02 UTC
Full article 3 comments
“We have discharged untreated rain and surface water into the Para River,” Norsk Hydro CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg said in a statement. “We have discharged untreated rain and surface water into the Para River,” Norsk Hydro CEO Svein Richard Brandtzæg said in a statement.

Norwegian energy group Norsk Hydro, accused of causing environmental damage in northern Brazil, on Monday apologized for the unauthorized discharge of untreated water into a local river from its aluminum factory Alunorte, the largest in the world.

“We have discharged untreated rain and surface water into the Para River,” Chief Executive Svein Richard Brandtzæg said in a statement.

“This is completely unacceptable and in breach with what Hydro stands for.

On behalf of the company, I personally apologize to the communities, authorities and the society” he added.

Brazilian authorities have accused the company of having contaminated the Barcarena municipality's water with bauxite residues which they claimed had overflowed from a deposit basin at the Alunorte plant after heavy rainfall on February 16th and 17th.

In response, they slapped Norsk Hydro with two fines of 10 million reais (2.5 million Euros) each and ordered the aluminum supplier to halve its production at the site and suspend the use of the basin.

The incident poses risks to fishermen and other communities living near the Amazon River as the water they drink and bathe in have high levels of aluminum and heavy metals, according to an institute reporting to Brazil's ministry of public health.

The spills announced on Monday are independent of the extreme weather incident in mid-February, Norsk Hydro said.

“According to the license, all rain and surface water from Alunorte refinery area should have been led to the water treatment system”, the company said.

It launched an internal investigation and commissioned an independent audit by the UK-based environmental consultancy, SGW Services, to shed light on these incidents.

On Friday, the company announced 500 million kroner (52.6 million Euros) investment in upgrading the water treatment system at the site.

These difficulties are of concern to investors: Alunorte, which is 92.1% owned by Norsk Hydro, has an annual production capacity of 6.3 million tons of alumina, the main raw material for producing aluminum.

Top Comments

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  • Jack Bauer

    While admitting the irregularities and apologizing might be a good first step, what about the environment that has been damaged beyond recovery, for decades to come ?.....sounds like this is going to end the same way as the Samarco case in MG, where it destroyed the Rio Doce...despite promises made by Samarco after the disaster, the victims are still in the sh*t, abandoned to their own luck, and Samarco carries on as if nothing had happened ...and probably nothing will happen...until the next dam ruptures. Typical of this banana republic.

    Mar 20th, 2018 - 09:15 pm 0
  • DemonTree

    RE Your post in 'Brazil's speaker of the Lower House also wants to run for the presidency'

    “I have a friend....makes plenty of money, but max's out all his credit cards,”

    That's exactly the sort of thing I was talking about; I don't understand it either. I had a colleague once who had dropped out of Uni because she spent all her student loan, then borrowed on credit cards up to the maximum... She had big debts, but she still couldn't stop spending. While I was living with my mother and saving my money, she had just moved into a new house and was buying furniture on credit. One day she had an abcess in her tooth and had to have it pulled out because she had no savings at all and couldn't afford to pay for a root canal.

    “To me, only 'limited' donations, from identified individuals should be allowed...if the candidate, or the party, doesn't collect enough money to campaign as they'd like to, it would only reflect the fact that people aren't interested in them.”

    It does seem like a good idea. It would make it harder for new parties, but Brazil seems to have rather too many of them already. The only problem is the huge size of the country which must make campaigning very expensive, if everyone was limited to a small amount of money, it might favour candidates who are already celebrities, or worse those who don't mind breaking the law (which is what is happening now?)

    RE Terry, this is interesting:

    “You still don’t get it. It’s evidently proof it has to be an unadulterated image, otherwise it’s no longer genuine.If it’s been manipulated and is then worthless.”

    What he seems to be saying, is that he knows the picture is genuine, therefore I must know it. If true it suggests a certain lack of theory of mind, it's one of Piaget's stages in the video I linked in the other thread.

    Mar 26th, 2018 - 09:04 pm 0
  • Jack Bauer

    If Brazil, with its 32 parties is already ungovernable without bribery, imagine if another 70 parties – currently waiting in line – are approved by the electoral court ? If an elected politician wants sufficient recognition to get re-elected, he should be more concerned with presenting projects, which if approved, benefit society. They will speak for themselves.

    Candidates who might be considered celebrities have the advantage of recognition (either because of doing ‘good’, doing nothing, or being corrupt) but that’s just the rules of the game. It's up to the individual to choose a candidate who isn't just an unqualified opportunist.
    But the majority of politicians are content to receive their big paychecks, splarge taxpayer money and look for opportunities to make a quick buck.

    Terry is the one who “really doesn’t get it “. Must be above his pay grade ; he thinks that we must believe him just because ‘he’ says “It’s evidently proof it has to be an unadulterated image” ?? and that, even after having seen the mugs with other initials, and implicitly admitting that the image can be ‘manipulated’….and like a moron, he even goes on the say the obvious, “if manipulated it is worthless, is no longer genuine”…well, if he hadn’t said so, who’d have told me ? would I go through life believing images can’t be adulterated ? to him, his ‘word’, or his ‘quotes’ are proof…but of what ? only that somebody actually ‘wrote’ or ‘said’ something….and SO WHAT ?? proves nothing. He simply “doesn’t get it” that he contradicts his own silly theories all the time, and exposes himself to ridicule.. . No wonder he's such a sourpuss.

    Mar 27th, 2018 - 06:01 pm 0
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