UN calls for independent investigation into Brazilian dam collapse

31 January 2019 (Last Updated July 9th, 2020 14:42)

UN human rights experts have sought a prompt and impartial investigation into the deadly collapse of a tailing dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

UN human rights experts have sought a prompt and impartial investigation into the deadly collapse of a tailing dam in Minas Gerais, Brazil.

Last week, the dam at Vale’s Córrego do Feijão iron mine collapsed, killing at least 84 people with around 270 still missing.

According to reports, around 430 people were working in the mine when the dam ruptured.

The incident flooded the town of Brumadinho with 12 million cubic metres of mining waste.

In a statement, the UN experts said: “We urge the government to act decisively on its commitment to do everything in its power to prevent more such tragedies and to bring to justice those responsible for this disaster.”

The experts have also requested that the Brazilian government prioritises safety evaluations of existing dams to prevent similar incidents in the future.

Additionally, they requested that the authorisation of new tailings dams be suspended until safety can be ensured.

“We urge the government to act decisively on its commitment to do everything in its power to prevent more such tragedies and to bring to justice those responsible for this disaster.”

UN special rapporteur on toxics Baskut Tuncak urged the government to conduct a thorough probe into the toxicity of the mining waste released after the incident, as well as to make all related information public.

The experts also asked the mining company Vale to cooperate with the investigation and work to minimise the adverse human rights impacts caused by the incident.

Recently, Vale announced closure of an additional 19 dams as a preventive measure to avoid similar incidents. The shutdown is estimated to cost company profits by nearly $1.3bn.

The dam burst at Córrego do Feijão iron mine is the second such incident involving Vale in the last three years.

In 2015, a dam collapse at Brazil’s Samarco iron ore mine killed 19 people.