German TÜV Süd “shies away from responsibility” for dam failure in Brazil in 2019, court says


* TÜV Süd certified “hazardous” tailings dam, according to civil complaint

* Dam rupture killed 270 in Brazil’s deadliest dam collapse

* TÜV Süd denies any responsibility, regrets the disaster

By Alexander Hübner

MUNICH, Sept.28 (Reuters) – German industrial inspector TÃœV Süd was accused on Tuesday of evading responsibility for his alleged role in the deadly 2019 dam collapse in Brazil, as Brazilian claimants began the first civil lawsuit in Germany for the disaster.

The municipality of Brumadinho and the family of a victim allege that the company was responsible for certifying the Brumadinho dam in southeastern Brazil four months before it ruptured in January 2019, triggering a tide of waste that killed around 270 people in the country’s deadliest mining disaster.

“TÃœV Süd is shirking its heavy responsibility and will not help us to rebuild our small municipality,” Avimar Barcelos, the mayor of Brumadinho, told the court.

“They should come (to Brazil) and see what they’ve done.”

Lawyers for Munich-based TÃœV Süd expressed regret over the disaster but told the court the company was not responsible, noting that Brazilian Vale, the world’s largest iron ore producer who mined the dam, had agreed to pay damages of 6.0 billion euros ($ 7 billion).

“It is the operator of the dam who is responsible for its stability,” said Philipp Hanfland, one of the lawyers for TÃœV Süd.

Vale was not immediately available for comment.

But Jens Spangenberg, representing the plaintiffs with law firm PGMBM, said access to justice in Brazil was slow. To date, the federal state of Minas Gerais had given the district 160,000 euros – and 70% of the sludge had not yet been removed, he said.

The seven claimants, including the parents, three brothers and the husband of Vale engineer Izabela Barroso Cãmara Pinto, are claiming around half a million euros in damages from the company.

Lawyers for the plaintiffs say that if this case is successful, around 1,200 more people, who have lost family members or were directly affected by the dam failure, could launch lawsuits that could result in billions in damages. euros.

The next hearing is scheduled for February 2022.

($ 1 = € 0.8537)

($ 1 = 5.3349 reais) (Written by Kirstin Ridley; additional reporting by Clara Denina; editing by Barbara Lewis)

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