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24 Jan 2022


Brazil: Dam collapse in Brumadinho marks 3 years with families waiting for reparations, six victims still missing and no one held responsible

Brumadinho dam disaster, Minas Gerais

"Three years after Brumadinho tragedy, justice and accountability still elude the victims", 24 January 2022

...In 2019, 270 people died in the Brumadinho mine collapse, Brazil’s worst environmental and industrial disaster. A study shows that the dam collapse could have been predicted weeks in advance with the right monitoring technology.

Last year, in response to a civil suit brought against Vale by the workers’ union Sindicato Metabase Brumadinho, a labour court ordered Vale to pay R$1million (US$200,000) compensation to the families of Vale employees. The disaster killed 270 people, but the action only benefits the families of 131 workers directly hired by Vale and does not include subcontracted workers.

...Vale...has appealed the decision, claiming that the amount of compensation owed to the victims is ‘absurd’.

Evidence shows that the company had known that the dam was unstable for 16 years. One year after the disaster, Brazilian state prosecutors charged Vale’s former chief executive and 15 other people with homicide. However, in October 2021, Vale argued – and the Superior Court agreed - that there were indications that archaeological sites had been damaged, making it a federal crime. The Public Ministry says it will appeal the decision...

Vale operates 43 tailings dams in Brazil, mostly in the state of Minas Gerais. Thirty are currently operating under emergency protocols, including three under ‘level 3’ indicating a risk of imminent rupture. Residents living near dams at levels 2 and 3 have been evacuated and containment barriers have been built to prevent a catastrophic breach. The company has committed to decommission its ten ‘upstream’ dams, whose structure pose greater risks of instability...