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26 Nov 2015

United Nations independent experts on environment and toxic waste

Brazil: UN rights experts call on the Govt. and relevant businesses to protect the environment and communities impacted by dam collapse

“Brazilian mine disaster: “This is not the time for defensive posturing” – UN rights experts”, 25 November 2015

…Two United Nations independent experts on environment and toxic waste…called on the Government of Brazil and relevant businesses to take immediate action to protect the environment and health of communities at risk of exposure to toxic chemicals in the wake of the catastrophic collapse of a tailing dam on 5 November 2015…“The steps taken by the Brazilian government, Vale and BHP Billiton to prevent harm were clearly insufficient…[They]…should be doing everything within their power to prevent further harm, including exposure to heavy metals and other toxic chemicals,” they stressed…[T]he collapse of a tailing dam belonging to a joint venture of Vale and BHP Billiton (Samarco Mining S.A.)…contained high levels of toxic heavy metals and other toxic chemicals in the river Doce. Hospitals…have received several patients. “The scale of the environmental damage is the equivalent of 20,000 Olympic swimming pools of toxic mud waste contaminating the soil, rivers and water system of an area covering over 850 kilometers,” Mr. Knox…[ Special Rapporteur on the issue of human rights obligations related to the enjoyment of a safe, clean, healthy and sustainable environment]…warned. He noted that the Doce River…“is now considered…dead and the toxic sludge is slowly working its way downstream towards the Abrolhos National Marine Park…“The Brazilian authorities should assess whether Brazil’s laws for mining are consistent with international human rights standards, including the right to information,” said Mr. Tuncak…[Special Rapporteur human rights and hazardous substances and wastes]…The Special Rapporteurs stated that “this disaster serves as yet another tragic example of the failure of businesses to adequately conduct human rights due diligence to prevent human rights abuses.”…“Prevention of harm must be at the center of the approach of business whose activities involve hazardous substances and wastes.”…

Part of the following timelines

Brazil: Government to sue BHP and Vale over dam disaster that caused deaths & environmental destruction

BHP & Vale lawsuit (re dam collapse in Brazil, filed in Brazil)