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Mining Company Vale Tampers With Crucial Data From Deadly Dam Disaster, Say Federal Police

05/31/2016 - 11h35

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ESTÊVÃO BERTONI
FROM SÃO PAULO

JOSÉ MARQUES
FROM BELO HORIZONTE

New evidence reveals Vale, the company responsible for the tragic mining disaster in Mariana, in the state of Minas Gerais, tampered with important data regarding their activity in the area.

In November 2015 the Fundão dam burst, and a river of slurry swept through the neighbouring village of Bento Rodrigues, killing 19 inhabitants. The mining company responsible for the dam, was Samarco, joint owned by Vale and BHP Billiton. According to the Federal Police's report, Vale tampered with figures in order to deliberately obstruct the investigations.

The mining company generated two types of waste products in the region of the disaster: slurry, which was stored in Samarco's tailings dam, and other residues that were deposited in a reservoir in Campo Grande.

One month after the dam burst, causing fatalities and the irreversible pollution of the Rio Doce, Vale modified official documents detailing the chemical composite of the residue and the concentration of mineral waste produced.

In the modified version of accounts, the volume of slurry deposited in the Fundão was considerably less than the original amounts stated by the company.

Higher levels of water present in the dumped refuse was considered by police to be one of the causes of the dam's rupture.

In a statement released by the company, Vale admitted to altering the reports. However, the firm insists these were actually "corrections", and that all its calculations have been executed with perfect transparency.

Vale's use of the dam was revealed by Folha in November. The data was altered in December.

According to a police informant, the company tried to absolve itself of responsibility by changing the data to avoid fines of R$ 2.600 (US$ 783), a negligible figure for the vastly rich mining company.

Translated by GILLIAN SOPHIE HARRIS

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