Tüv Süd responds to allegations it is failing to cooperate with investigators looking into Brazil dam collapse

A prosecutor and lawmaker looking into the Brumadinho dam collapse have alleged Tüv Süd is failing to co-operate with their inquiries. Tüv Süd had approved the dam before it burst on 25 January 2019 killing over 245 people. As reported by the BBC, investigators have now said there is evidence to suggest Tüv Süd certified the structure as safe despite knowing it was vulnerable to collapse.

Business & Human Rights Resource Centre (BHRRC) invited Tüv Süd to respond to the allegations. Tüv Süd responded saying it "has repeatedly offered, and continues to offer, its cooperation to the responsible authorities in the context of the ongoing investigations." The full statement is available below. In March 2019, Tüv Süd had told BHRRC that "after the dam breach in Brumadinho, [it] started an independent investigation into the case and offered its full cooperation to the authorities to clarify the circumstances of the collapse of the structure" (our translation; available here).

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Company response
1 August 2019

Tüv Süd response

Author: Tüv Süd

TÜV SÜD is deeply saddened by the tragic dam breach in Brumadinho on 25 January 2019.

TÜV SÜD is very much interested in clarifying the facts of the dam breach. That is why, TÜV SÜD, together with an in international expert group, is working intensively on determining the circumstances of the dam breach.

The company has repeatedly offered, and continues to offer, its cooperation to the responsible authorities in the context of the ongoing investigations.

TÜV SÜD Brazil employees provided the Minas Gerais public prosecutor's office with detailed information during the official investigations.

The Declaration of Stability (DCE) was a description of the condition of the dam at the time it was sent to Vale. In its accompanying report, which was very comprehensive, TÜV SÜD described what had to be done to operate the dam and what was not. Among other things, drillings, use of heavy machinery and detonations were to be omitted. During the hearings of the inquiry committee of the Brazilian Senate (CPI) there were, however, statements that in the vicinity of the dam detonations supposedly had been carried out on the day of the dam breach.

18 July 2019

Brazil dam: How German firm approved Brazil dam before it burst

Author: Jenny Hill, BBC News

Six months after a deadly dam collapse in Brazil, new evidence has emerged that suggests the disaster could have been prevented... A prosecutor and lawmaker say German firm Tüv Süd is failing to co-operate. They complain the company's lack of co-operation is affecting their inquiries...

Documents and internal emails seized by investigators show that Tüv Süd employees knew for around a year that there was liquefaction at the dam... In the following months email exchanges show that Tüv Süd's analyses of the dam failed to meet the official safety level required to certify the dam.

Investigators have now established that they eventually "solved" this problem by changing the way in which the dam was certified. They attached conditions of use to the certification: making it, for example, dependent on there being no explosions around the site - unlikely in mining country. This enabled them to sign it off despite its weakness...

Tüv Süd declined the BBC's request for an interview but said they were working intensively towards establishing what happened. Vale says that regular internal and external audits were carried out at the site and that no anomalies were detected that implied an imminent risk of rupture. The German government told the BBC that, while it expected every German company in cases like this to co-operate to the best of their ability, it ultimately had no responsibility in this instance...

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