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State of Pará Demands US$ 75 million Settlement from Norwegian Company

04/04/2018 - 11h24

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FABIANO MAISONNAVE
FROM MANAUS

The governor of the state of Pará, Simão Jatene (PSDB), filed a civil environmental lawsuit on Tuesday (the 3rd) demanding that Norwegian company Hydro Alunorte pay the state R$ 250 million (US$ 75 million) in damages after inadequately disposing of untreated waters in the city of Barcarena, 100 kilometers away from state capital Belém.

Through the State Prosecutor's Office, the government requested that either the amount be made available in a precautionary manner, or that the company "present adequate guarantees that it will be able to pay damages in full." The lawsuit was filed at the 1st Civil and Business Court of Barcarena.

"The payment in terms of material damages is a necessary measure that protects society, which must be compensated for the financial losses that the defendant, who admitted to illicit conduct, inflicted on the environment and on the well-being of people who live in the areas surrounding the company," the lawsuit read.

João Ramid/Hydro/Alunorte
The Norwegian company Hydro Alunorte
The Norwegian company Hydro Alunorte

Hydro Alunorte said that it had not yet been notified of the lawsuit and that it would review its content before positioning itself. Last month, the company admitted that it had dumped rainwater that had piled up on the roof of an Alunorte coal shed - and should have undergone treatment - straight into the Pará River.

However, Hydro Alunorte has denied that waste from one of its deposits seeped into the surrounding areas following heavy rains back in mid-February that flooded communities neighboring the plant, which is the world's largest producer of alumina: the raw material used to make aluminum.

Community leaders, backed by technical reports provided by the Evandro Chagas Institute (IEV), claimed that heavy rains had in fact led to seepage, but inspections conducted by other government agencies ruled out this possibility.

Translated by THOMAS MATHEWSON

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