Brazil activists in London seeking justice over Doce River disaster
Adam Barnett, Communications Officer, Business & Human Rights Resource Centre
On 3rd anniversary of Samarco dam collapse, community members visit London to meet with BHP Billiton, civil society organisations, parliamentarians and investors.
Three years on from the fatal Doce River dam collapse, activists from Brazil are in London to demand full compensation and resettlement for affected communities.
On Monday the activists – including social workers, legal advisors, and an indigenous leader – met with Anglo-Australian multinational BHP Billiton, which co-owns the dam, resulting in an apology and a commitment for further meetings.
They are also meeting with leading civil society organisations, investors, media, and the UK's All-Party Parliamentary Human Rights Group.
"This meeting was a critical moment for the communities, who have been waiting three years for adequate remedy. Never before have they had the chance to talk directly to BHP HQ. We hope this is the start of a more direct and meaningful dialogue between the BHP and the communities affected by the Doce River disaster."
- Leticia Aleixo, consultant at Caritas Brazil, who supported the community members' visit to London
The bursting of the Bento Rodrigues dam in Mariana, Minas Gerais, on November 5, 2015, was the worst socio-environmental disaster in Brazil’s history.
The dam flooded local villages with toxic mud, killing at least 19 people, displacing hundreds and polluting the Doce River.
250,000 people were left without drinking water, and many are still waiting for resettlement.
Before their meeting with BHP Billiton, the activists marched with banners along the Thames to Parliament Square, where they said a prayer and read out the names of the 19 victims.
"BHP valued the opportunity to hear directly from the people impacted by the Fundão dam failure and we commit to follow up on their concerns with the Renova Foundation. We reiterate our sincere apologies for the dam failure and reaffirm our commitment to remediation and compensation through the Renova Foundation."
- BHP Billiton spokesperson
"Regarding the Fundão dam break's 3-year anniversary protests, the Renova Foundation understands the legitimate concerns of the affected and reaffirms its commitment to the dialogue for the joint construction of solutions. The Foundation clarifies that the issues raised are being addressed with willingness to engage, transparency and commitment to the biggest environmental, social and economic recovery action in the country. Important steps were taken in the path of reparation in 2018. Construction of the Bento Rodrigues resettlement was initiated and R$ 1.2 billion were paid in indemnities and financial aid."
- Renova Foundation (translated from Portuguese) who administer remediation and compensation for the dam failure
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