Three employees of Vale and two subcontracted engineers held over Brumadinho disaster
Rescuers sift through toxic mud in search of Brazil dam victims – video report 1 :08
Brazilian police have arrested five people in an investigation into the causes of the
Brumadinho dam disaster.
The dam break on Friday at an iron ore mining complex operated by the minerals firm Vale killed at least 65 people, and a further 279 are missing .
Federal and state prosecutors said 30-day arrest warrants had been issued “aiming to establish criminal responsibility for the rupture of dams at the Córrego de Feijão mine maintained by Vale”.
Arrests were carried out in São Paulo and Belo Horizonte on Tuesday morning, prosecutors said. Searches were carried out at a Vale building in Nova Lima and a subcontracted company in São Paulo that provided services and consultancy to Vale.
“Three Vale employees directly employed and responsible were arrested. In addition, subcontracted engineers who recently attested to the stability of the dam were arrested,” the prosecutors said.
Last Friday, after the dam broke, Vale said it had “declarations of the condition of stability” from TÜV SÜD, a German company with headquarters in São Paulo, given on 13 June and 26 September last year.
The news site G1 named the arrested engineers as Makoto Namba and André Yum Yassuda. It said Namba, a civil engineer and geo-technician, was one of the signatories to the September declaration of stability.
Another news site, R7, named the Vale employees held as Rodrigo de Melo, Ricardo de Oliveira and César Granchamp. It said Granchamp also signed the September declaration.
In a statement, TÜV SÜD said its Brazilian arm had carried out two assessments at the dam on behalf of Vale: “a periodic review of dam safety (June 2018) and one regular inspection of dam safety (September 2018). Due to ongoing investigations TÜV SÜD Brasil cannot comment further on this case at the moment. The company collaborates with the authorities providing all requested information.”
Its website says TÜV SÜD is the “the world’s No 1 brand of choice for premium quality, safety and sustainability solutions that add tangible value to your business”.
Vale said on Tuesday it was fully cooperating with the authorities and would continue to support the investigations into the disaster.
Three years ago, a similar disaster in the same state, Minas Gerais, at a mine run by Samarco, a joint-venture between Vale and BHP Billiton, killed 19 people, poisoned the drinking water of hundreds of thousands and sent mining waste down the river Doce to the sea.
Brazil’s regional development minister, Gustavo Canuto, said on Tuesday that nearly 4,000 dams in Brazil were classified as having “high damage potential” or being at high risk. He added that 205 of those dams contained mineral waste.