Salem Radio Network News Monday, October 18, 2021

World

Germany’s TÜV Süd “shirking responsibility” over 2019 Brazil dam burst, court hears

By Alexander Hübner

MUNICH (Reuters) – German industrial inspector TÜV Süd was on Tuesday accused of evading its responsibilities over its alleged role in the 2019 deadly collapse of a dam in Brazil, as Brazilian claimants kicked off the first civil lawsuit in Germany over the disaster.

The municipality of Brumadinho and the family of one victim allege the company was responsible for certifying the Brumadinho dam in southeastern Brazil four months before it burst in January 2019, unleashing a tide of waste that killed about 270 people in the country’s deadliest mining disaster.

“TÜV Süd is shirking its grave responsibility and will not help us rebuild our small municipality,” Avimar Barcelos, the mayor of Brumadinho, told the court.

“They should come (to Brazil) and see what they have done.”

Lawyers for Munich-based TÜV Süd voiced regret over the catastrophe but told the court the company was not liable, noting that Brazil’s Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer that operated the dam, had agreed to pay damages of 6.0 billion euros ($7 billion).

“It is the operator of the dam who is responsible for its stability,” said Philipp Hanfland, one of TÜV Süd’s lawyers.

Vale was not immediately available for comment.

But Jens Spangenberg, representing the claimants along with law firm PGMBM, said access to justice in Brazil was slow. To date, the federal state of Minas Gerais had handed the district 160,000 euros – and 70% of the sludge had yet to be removed, he said.

The seven claimants, including the parents, three brothers and husband of Vale engineer Izabela Barroso Cãmara Pinto, are demanding around half a million euros in damages from the company.

Claimant lawyers say if this case is successful, about 1,200 other people, who lost family members or were directly affected by the dam failure, could launch follow-on claims that could propel damages to billions of euros.

The next hearing has been scheduled for February 2022.

($1 = 0.8537 euros)

($1 = 5.3349 reais)

(Writing by Kirstin Ridley; additional reporting by Clara Denina; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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