Brazil: Communities & authorities accuse Norsk Hydro of Amazon toxic spill due to a ‘clandestine pipeline’; incl. co response

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Company response
5 March 2018

Response by Norsk Hydro

Author: Norsk Hydro

Dear Madam,

In just 12 hours during 16 and 17 February, the city of Barcarena, home to our Alunorte alumina refinery, was hit by an extreme rainfall, flooding the region. We are concerned about the situation and for the people and local communities of Barcarena. We are helping our neighbors to get access to clean water and medical services. Also, we have established an expert task force to lead a comprehensive review of Alunorte, reporting directly to the CEO as well as an independent review of the situation. 

Please see updates of Hydro’s response to the situation: https://www.hydro.com/en/press-room/alunorte-situation/

Best regards

Article
28 February 2018

Brazil: Communities & authorities accuse Norsk Hydro of Amazon toxic spill & ‘clandestine pipeline’; incl. co comments

Author: Max Nathanson, Mongabay (US)

"Norsk Hydro accused of Amazon toxic spill, admits 'clandestine pipeline'", 27 February 2018

...Norsk Hydro, a bauxite and aluminum mining and refining company also known as "Hydro" whose majority and controlling shareholder is the Norwegian government, has been accused by the Brazilian government of a toxic waste spill from holding basins at its Hydro Alunorte facility. The operation...in Barcarena..., Pará..., near the mouth of the Amazon River, is the largest aluminum refining plant in the world. The company denies responsibility for any spill, but says it is cooperating fully with officials.
Also last week, Norsk Hydro was accused of possessing a "clandestine pipeline to discharge untreated effluent" into a set of Muripi River Springs in a report by the Evandro Chagas Institute of Brazil's Ministry of Health. The Norwegian mining giant at first denied this accusation, then admitted to it.
"During one of the inspections, there was a pipeline with a small flow of reddish water in the refinery area," the company says. "As requested by the authorities, the company is making the necessary investigations to identify the origin and nature of the material, as well as carrying out the immediate sealing of this pipeline."...[On 24 February]...prosecutors of the Federal Public Ministry (MPF) and Pará state sent Norsk Hydro a document requesting immediate closure of the Norsk Hydro holding basin. According to the agencies, there is a risk of a breach of the waste pond, which has raised fears of a tragedy similar to that of Mariana in 2015, when a toxic mud wave buried the village of Bento Rodrigues and spread down the Doce River for 500 miles to the Atlantic Ocean...According to IBAMA, Brazil's environmental agency, the company has not paid fines set at R $17 million (US $5.27 million) to date, after a toxic overflow in 2009..."This is not the first leak," said Sandra Amorim, a resident of the São João quilombola (made up of former slave runaways), a kilometer from the Norsk Hydro holding basin. Back then, she said, "They first denied it, and after the report they said it had a leak. They promised that they [would] start distributing drinking mineral water and food. That's not enough for us, we do not want crumbs, we want this situation solved." ...

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