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26 Jan, 2019 21:54

Brazilian mining company to pay $66mn fine following deadly dam burst

Brazilian mining company to pay $66mn fine following deadly dam burst

The company that owns the ore mine where a dam broke killing 34 people has been ordered to pay a fine of $66 million, one of the biggest environmental penalties in Brazil’s history. Dozens of people are still missing.

The Brazilian environmental agency Ibama has fined the Vale SA mining company 250 million reals ($66.32 million) for various violations that eventually led to the tailings dam burst at its facility in Brazil’s southern Minas Gerais region on Friday.

The company is accused of causing pollution, making the area unfit for habitation, and other regulatory violations.

Also on rt.com At least 7 dead, 150+ missing after dam burst in Brazil (PHOTOS, VIDEO)

A state judge also ordered Vale to freeze 5 billion reals ($1.3 billion) on its accounts to pay for the damage caused by the dam rupture. The disaster sent torrents of mud and sludge into the forest and villages below the dam. Scores of people were trapped by the river of sludge that washed away roads and destroyed buildings in its path.

The news came as the Brazilian rescue services were still looking for people listed as missing following the catastrophe. Out of 300 people, who were in the area when the dam broke, a third are accounted for. At least 34 people were found dead while the search for others is underway.

The region that witnessed the dam burst was still recovering from another incident considered one of the worst disasters in Brazil’s history. In 2015, another dam in the state of Minas Gerais suffered a catastrophic failure, flooding the river below with toxic iron waste. At least 17 people were killed at that time and hundreds more were displaced.

The fine that Vale has to pay following the incident is likely to be one of the biggest such penalties in Brazil, even without the compensation, which was separately ordered by the judge.

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In another high-profile case involving environmental damage, the Brazilian state oil company Petrobras had to pay 100 million reals ($26.49 million) for releasing wastewater from oil production into the ocean in February 2018.

In 2011, American energy giant, Chevron, was slapped with a $28 million fine for causing an offshore oil spill. Following the 2015 dam disaster, the mining company that owned the facility, Samarco, was fined 250 million reals ($66.3 million) as well.

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