Brazilian federal police submitted formal charges against high-level executives from the Brazilian mining companies Samarco and Vale on Wednesday for environmental crimes following the aftermath of the November 2015 dam burst in Minas Gerais state.
Vale responded to the news in an emailed statement that it received the news of its indictment “with surprise’’ because the causes of the accident are “still unknown.”
Meanwhile, Samarco said in a press release “it did not agree with the charges against its executives because until now there has been no technical study to determine the cause of the accident.”
The company has already been ordered to pay US$5 billion in cleanup efforts of the affected areas of the river following the accident.
The dam's failure, which took place at the Samacro mining complex, caused a massive mudslide that killed at least 14 people, releasing 60 million cubic meters of iron-mining waste and toxic sludge downstream into the Atlantic Ocean.
The incident was described by one cabinet minister as Brazil’s worst-ever environmental disaster.
In the public statement the federal police said that the charges were based on a law, which designates as a crime activities “which cause pollution which result or could result in damage to human health, or cause the death of animals or significant destruction of flora.”
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