After the Mariana dam disaster in 2015, officials vowed ‘never again’. However, just 3 years later in January 2019, a mining disaster struck once again, this time causing even greater loss to human life. Nearly 300 people died when a tailings dam collapsed in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais, and once again toxic sludge was released into the environment. It destroyed infrastructure, submerged vehicles, contaminated water supplies and continues to harm ecological systems and individuals alike.
PGMBM are looking to hold to account those who, despite the clear warnings about its potential for destruction, certified the dam’s stability. TÜV SÜD is a German industrial inspection company which granted the dam a safety certificate just months before it collapsed. While it makes decisions from Europe, the victims of its work in Brazil have been left without access to justice or a claim for compensation.
The elements of the catastrophe were present before it struck; news reports detail structural problems, damaged monitoring systems, blocked drainage pipes and water seeping from areas of the dam. The liquefaction of tailings, consisting of water and the by-product of iron ore mining, and the subsequent phenomenal force of mud was preventable.