Vale indicted for environmental crimes in deadly dam disaster

The failure of the tailings dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão mine swept the town of Brumadinho and killed 270 people. (Image of the aftermath by Diego Baravelli, Wikimedia Commons).

Brazil’s Federal Police indicted Vale SA and German safety auditing firm TUEV SUED AG for environmental crimes in a deadly dam collapse that buried a rural village and spread mining waste in the area. 

The two companies were charged with several crimes against animal life, flora, water resources, and other counts of pollution, while 19 consultants, engineers, managers and directors were also indicted for the deaths of 270 people, the Federal Police said in a statement Friday.

The 2019 disaster in Brumadinho in southeastern Brazil caused Vale to lose its position as the world’s biggest iron-ore producer and sparked a company-wide safety and governance overhaul. In February, Vale agreed to pay $7 billion to the state of Minas Gerais, which will be used in socioeconomic and environmental programs to repair the damage caused by the dam collapse.

Vale awaits to be formally informed of the conclusion of the police investigation before making any statement, according to an emailed response to questions. The Rio de Janeiro-based company said it has continuously collaborated with the Federal Police investigations and reaffirmed that no scenario at the time indicated the dam structure was at an imminent risk of rupture.

TUEV SUED said by email it couldn’t comment because it hasn’t yet been able to assess the police report. 

The report from the police inquiry will now be sent to the federal prosecutors’ office, which said it will analyze the documents, together with other evidence obtained during its own investigations.

Federal prosecutors also await a decision from a high court on whether criminal charges related to the Brumadinho case will be judged at federal or state level.

(By Mariana Durao)


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