In 2018, cracks, sinkholes and earthquakes linked to rock-salt mining activities caused huge damage to streets, houses and buildings in several neighbourhoods in Maceió, the capital of Alagoas state in Northeast Brazil.
Since the first tremors in the area, residents of the Maceió neighbourhoods of Pinheiro, Bebedouro, Mutange and Bom Parto have reported cracks in buildings and roads, and even sinkholes appearing. Indeed, many residents were forced to leave their homes due to fear that the building may collapse around them.
A report by the Brazilian geological service released in May of 2019 blamed nearby salt mining by Braskem for damage to the structural integrity of property in Maceio.
In August 2020, residents of an affected neighbourhood protested at Braskem’s door to demand improvements to a compensation scheme, Braskem’s Financial Compensation and Relocation Support Program.
Thousands of victims are still waiting to be compensated for damage and they are now taking their legal battle to foreign courts to achieve appropriate redress for the impact that the operations of Braskem have had on their lives in Maceió. Those who have received financial aid argue that it is not enough.
Social and commercial activity in the affected neighbourhoods has suffered in the areas affected, with a slowdown for local business as locals leave the area. Many of those who remain attribute a rise in anti-social behaviour, crime and violence to the dilapidation of their community.
Some of those affected have also started to suffer from mental health conditions, including anxiety attacks and depression, due to the effects of Braskem’s mining activities on their lives and their surroundings.
Now, affected individuals will be joining as leading claimants of the collective litigation against the owner of the salt mines that produced the damage.