It was reported on February 5th that Samarco executives may face homicide charges on the basis of victim autopsies and records seized by police.
We have gathered all of the findings from the autopsy reports, in which we determined that the crime of murder had been committed,” said Rodrigo Bustamante, who has been heading up the investigation for the state’s civil police
What is suggested in this report is that the evidence supporting criminal charges for murder was based on (1) cause of death clearly attributable to the gigantic mudflow (2) that the risks of failure and its consequence were clearly known and/or forseeable and that (3) not taking recommended steps to prevent failure .
As part of their criminal investigation, authorities carried out searches on the premises of the Samarco headquarters, in which they collected copies of emails and internal company messages in order to determine whether the company executives know about the impending risk of the dam breaking.
Independent experts warned two years ago that the jointly owned Samarco mine, which collapsed in southeastern Brazil killing 19 people, was not safe.
Most of those killed were workers at the mine working on a project preparatory to the merging of the closed Germano and the Fundao by removing the Silenha Dike separating the two . That plan had not been authorized or approved though steps towards its implementation were underway. The Silennha dike was one of the structures damaged during the failure. Some of those may have been employees of the contractor retained by Samarco for this work.
The criminal investigation, presumably through new evidence gathered in the raid on Samarco’s record, may increase the amount of the already initiated $us5.1 billion damage claim. It was not disclosed whether criminal charges other than murder would also be brought. A separate lawsuit and investigation under Brazil’s Environmental Crimes Statute has been underway since right after the failure on November 5th.
Still another law suit was recently initiated by the Federal Office in Linhares near the mouth of the Rio Doce on behalf of fisherman whose livlihoods have been indefinitely interrupted and impaired by the mud flow.
Criminal charges have also been filed against Herculano Mine exceutive for a tailings dam failure there in 2014.
A finding of criminal acts would most likely nullify all or most of the $60 million of the loss previously reported as insured. Property & casualty insurance , which would include claims fied by homeowners, business owners, farmers and the two states involved where a cause is “an act of God” would not respond to any claims resulting from criminal acts or fror forseeable and preventable. Until recently, as usually happens following a mine catastrophe owners were suggesting that the final investigation would show the cause was two small earthquakes quite close to he site of failure. Bowker Associates has reviewed that data and it appears that both were after the Fundao failure and possibly caused by it. In recent comments Samarco, BHP and Vale have not referred to the two small tremors as a possible cause of failure. That would be an unsustainable claim anyway as the dam should have been built to withstand a maximum credible event during its operation and into perpetuity and that is well above 4.5. The two small quakes were 2.5 and under.
Claims by victims families and all who suffered damages can still be pursued in civil court and by writing a notice of cliam directly to Samarco at its Corporate Headquarters. And of course, all claims are still be valid, regardless of insurance coverage but there would be no insurance to respond and it would be that much harder for victims to prepare, file and manage their claims.
Minas Gerais has not required Samarco to set up and fund a claims management litigation support process for victims. Bowker Associates is investigating whether it is possible to set up a miner funded claims management litigation support process for the victims likely to number in the thousands. They have enumerated $R 1.2 billion in damages and losses to the two municipalities affected by the failure exclusive of te $US 5.1 billion in envionemntal damages and any payment to families and affected businesses.
( O valor consta em relatório divulgado nesta quinta-feira (4), pela força-tarefa montada pelo governo de Minas para apurar prejuízos causados pela tragédia.) The value contained in a report released on Thursday (4), the task force set up by the government of Minas to determine damages caused by the tragedy.( O valor será cobrado da Samarco, que pertence à Vale e à BHP Billiton.) The amount will be charged to Samarco, which belongs to Vale and BHP Billiton. (No total não estão incluídos danos ambientais e recursos que serão utilizados para o pagamento de indenização a famílias). This amount is nand does not include environmental damages or provision for the payment of compensation to families.
(Conforme o relatório, 320 mil pessoas foram atingidas pela tragédia, que já tem 17 mortes confirmadas.) According to the report, 320,000 people were affected by the tragedy, which already has 17 confirmed deaths. (Duas pessoas ainda estão desaparecidas. Two people are still missing.
“….According to the report, the production chain in the region recorded losses to the private sector of R $ 540,466,816.00, according to information forwarded by municipalities.( As perdas foram por morte de animais, destruição de lavouras, pastagens, máquinas e construções). Losses were due to death of animals, destruction of crops, pastures, machinery and buildings. (Os prejuízos públicos totalizaram R$ 146.066 455,33, principalmente com a prestação de serviços como abastecimento de água, que ficou prejudicado com a lama no Rio Doce.) Public losses amounted to R $ 146,066 455.33, mainly to the provision of services such as water supply, which was damaged by the mud in Rio Doce. (Em relação à infraestrutura pública, a lama da Samarco consumiu R$ 513.755.631,00, com a destruição de estradas, postos de saúde, escolas, e comunidades, total ou parcialmente, como Bento Rodrigues e Paracatu de Baixo, em Mariana.) In relation to public infrastructure, the Samarco mud flow caused R $ 513,755,631.00, in losses including the destruction of roads, health centers, schools, and communities, in whole or in part, as Bento Rodrigues and Paracatu Low in Mariana”
Samarco has claimed it relied entirely on qualified consultants with recognized expertise for the design and ongoing management of the failed tailings dam specifically naming Dr. Joaquim Pimeta De Avila who has been a key witness in the police investigation. They say they received no notice of imminent risk of failure and had no knowledge of any problems that elevated the risk of failure.
Samarco id not meet the Federal government demand for deposit $R2.1 billion of the $Us5.1 billion to provide immediate funding for emergency recovery claiming it has already spent$R2.3 billion in clean up. and is continuing to fulfill its recovery obligations.They also indicated they need more time to post any further large amounts in cash.
Contact: Lindsay Newland Bowker, Founder & Director Bowker Associates Science & Research In the Public Interest firstname.lastname@example.org