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Brazil requests 5 billion dollars as compensation for the collapse of two dams

Brazil’s government expects to reach an agreement with Samarco to settle a 5 billion-dollar lawsuit for damages caused by the deadly dam disaster that occured on 5 November.

It’s been nearly four months since the dam disaster has poisoned Brazil, representing the worst environmental catastrophe in the country’s history and one of the world’s harshest. On 5 November, two dams collapsed in Minas Gerais region, South-eastern Brazil, spilling tonnes of toxic mud and killing 19 people. The area has been devastated, in particular the Doce River, one of Brazil’s largest watercourses, essential for livelihoods of local communities and for plant and animal species.

 

Villaggio devastato dal crollo delle dighe
On 5 November the villagge of Bento Rodrigues, in the region of Minas Gerais, was flooded by toxic mud, after two dams collapsed

 

Samarco, the mining company responsible for the disaster, owned by mining giants Vale and BHP Billiton, has paid two fines so far: 60 million dollars and 250 million dollars. However, in the aftermath of the tragedy experts estimated that damages had an environmental and social cost of billions of dollars.

 

The dam burst real impact still remains incalculable, but Brazil’s government requested to Samarco a new compensation of 20 billion Brazilian reals (about 5 billion dollars), as announced on Wednesday by Attorney General Luís Inácio Adams.

 

Proteste contro le aziende minerarie coivolte
Rallies against the mining companies involved in the disaster: Samarco, Vale and BHP Billiton © Sergio Moraes/Reuters

 

The compensation will be used to finance a ten-year programme aimed to restore and recover the environment, said Marilene Ramos, head of Brazil’s environmental protection agency IBAMA. Samarco already submitted a long-term environmental recovery plan on 28 January, which was rejected by IBAMA though.

 

 

Ripresa aerea dell'area colpita dallo tsunami di fango tossico
The dam burst caused the spill of toxic mud into the environment and the Doce River, thus into the ocean

 

However, the compensation and the area recovery won’t exclude Samarco from its criminal responsibility. The mining company’s director and a dozen managers are currently charged with environmental disaster, and they could also face murder charges.

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