The rupture of a dam that killed 270 people in the Brazilian community of Brumadinho in 2019 was caused by decisions by the Vale company, according to a federal police report released on Saturday.
The expertise partly contradicts the version of Vale, the world’s largest iron producer and exporter, claiming that the dam break the company used to store mineral waste was due to a series of vertical drilling done days before the tragedy.
According to Vale, the dam’s rupture, which two years ago caused a wave of rubbish that covered thousands of acres and left 259 dead and 11 missing, was caused by a mix of factors, such as the heavy weight of the structure and the heavy rainfall that fell into it Week fell.
However, federal police say Vale hired a company to assess the condition of the dam in order to install new equipment to measure the internal pressure of the dam.
The contracted company, whose name was not disclosed by the authorities, submitted a report with the results of the study. However, according to the Brazilian authorities, Vale did not conduct an in-depth analysis of the study and began drilling in some places where the waste was located. sedimented.
Five days before the tragedy, they drilled what was considered critical to the dam, reaching a depth of 68 meters. This triggered a process of liquefaction of mineral debris that extended across the dam.
According to the researchers, this liquefaction process, in which the material changes from a solid to a liquid state, took place very quickly and due to the movement caused by the perforations.
“The liquefaction is so rapid that it formed 30 seconds before the breakage. The (monitoring) instruments did not capture it, ”said the federal expert responsible for the report, Leonardo Mesquita de Souza, in a press conference.
The increase in net volume put undue pressure on the dam, the structure of which was “in general” already “fragile” in itself, and collapsed soon after, according to Mesquita De Souza.
“There was a hit. Vale should have checked the contractor’s diagnosis first, ”Luiz Augusto Pessoa, the investigating commissioner, told reporters.
The report can help the public prosecutor to file a criminal complaint against the person who may have been responsible for the disaster.
In the first phase of the investigation, in 2019 the Federal Police filed a lawsuit against a group of executives from Vale and the German company Tüv Süd for fraudulent certification of the dam’s safety.
Mining company Vale said in a statement that it will “evaluate” the content of the opinion submitted this Saturday and “in due course, through its lawyers,” will manifest it on the file.
In the civilian sector, the mining giant agreed this month with the prosecutor to pay 37,689 million reais (5.57 billion euros) in compensation for the damage caused in Brumadinho.
The dam breach caused a sea of mud that buried nearby houses and some of the company’s facilities in a matter of seconds.
Another similar episode occurred in late 2015 in Mariana, a municipality like Brumadinho, also in the state of Minas Gerais, in which the rupture of another dam in the Samarco mining area controlled by Vale and BHP Billiton caused 19 deaths and deaths a gigantic environmental tragedy.