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Lawsuit

15 Oct 2019

TÜV SÜD criminal investigation in Germany (re role in Brumadinho dam collapse)

Status: ONGOING

Incident date
Oct. 15, 2019
Unknown
Community
Location of Filing: Germany
Location of Incident: Brazil
Type of Litigation: Domestic

Companies

TÜV Süd Germany Auditing, consulting & accounting

Sources

Snapshot

On 15 October 2019, five Brazilians who lost close family members in the Brumadinho dam collapse, and two NGOs filed a law infringement complaint against German auditor TÜV SÜD. The plaintiffs allege that TÜV SÜD is jointly responsible (along with Vale, the owner of the mine) in the deaths and environmental damage due to the collapse of the Brumadinho dam in January 2019.  The company denies the allegations.

Case profile also available in: Deutsch | Español | Português

Legal proceedings

On 15 October 2019, five Brazilians who lost close family members in the Brumadinho dam collapse and two NGOs filed a law infringement complaint against German auditor TÜV SÜD. The plaintiffs allege that TÜV SÜD is jointly responsible (along with Vale, the owner of the mine) in the deaths and environmental damage caused by the collapse of the Brumadinho dam in January 2019.  The company denies the allegations.

Excessive water pressure caused the dam to burst, killing 270 people, contaminating the drinking water of thousands of people and causing damage to the surrounding environment. Four months before the dam failure, German auditor TÜV SÜD confirmed the dam’s safety, despite several unfulfilled maintenance recommendations from their Brazilian subsidiary. As early as March 2018, TÜV SÜD’s Brazilian subsidiary, Bureau de Projetos e Consultoria, reported problemswith the dam’s drainage. However, its recommendations were largely ignored. Furthermore, during an inspection, TÜV SÜD’s employees noted the dam did not reach the necessary stability factors. Instead of refusing to issue a stability declaration, they utilized new, faulty calculation methods to declare the dam’s safety.

After the dam burst, TÜV SÜD expressed condolences to those affected by the dam burst, but did not offer any compensation or accept responsibility.

In separate criminal investigations in Brazil, in February 2020, a Brazilian state judge accepted homicide charges and allowed a case to move forward against employees from mining company Vale and German auditor TÜV SÜD.

News items

-Germany's TÜV Süd "shirking responsibility" over 2019 Brazil dam burst, court hears, Today Online, 28 Sept 2021

- Brazil dam disaster firms to face criminal charges, BBC, 20 Sep 2019

- TÜV SÜD responds to allegations it is failing to cooperate with investigators looking in Brazil dam collapse, European Center for Constitutional and Human Rights (ECCHR), 1 Aug 2019

- Deadly dam breach near Brumadhinho: Affected persons file complaint against TÜV SÜD in Germany, ECCHR, Misereor, Associação Comunitária da Jangada and International Articulation of People Affected by Vale, 17 Oct 2019
- The Safety Business: TÜV SÜD’S role in the Brumadinho dam failure in Brazil, Oct 2019

Case Timeline