Brazil iron miner Samarco sued for billions in disaster that killed 19 people

Samarco and its owners Vale SA and BHP Billiton sued for 155bn real ($43.5bn), an amount calculated based on cost of Deepwater Horizon oil spill

Homes lay in ruins on 6 November 2015 after two dams burst the previous day, flooding the small town of Bento Rodrigues in Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP
Homes lay in ruins on 6 November 2015 after two dams burst the previous day, flooding the small town of Bento Rodrigues in Minas Gerais state, Brazil. Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP

Federal prosecutors in Brazil have filed a 155bn-real ($43.5bn) civil lawsuit against iron miner Samarco, and its owners Vale SA and BHP Billiton, for the collapse of a tailings dam in November that killed 19 people and polluted a major river.

The lawsuit, which is also against the two states impacted by the spill and the federal government, is the result of a six-month investigation led by a task force set up after the disaster, prosecutors said in a statement.

Vale said it had not been notified of the suit and was therefore unable to comment. BHP did not immediately respond to a request for comment.

The total damages, they said, were calculated based upon the cost of the Deepwater Horizon oil spill in the United States. BP’s total pre-tax charge for that spill reached $53.8bn.

Prosecutors demanded an initial payment of 7.7bn reais.

The civil action is separate from the lawsuit that Samarco, Vale and BHP settled with Brazil’s government in March in which the companies would pay an estimated 20bn reais for damage caused by the spill. Federal and state prosecutors did not form part of that settlement.

Read the full story on The Guardian.

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