Five years after the collapse of a tailings dam operated by mining company Samarco caused untold environmental damage to the town of Mariana in the state of Minas Gerais, a case filed by international law firm PGMBM against miner BHP will be opened in Manchester, England today. The plaintiffs request GBP 5 billion (USD 6.36 billion) in compensation for the losses caused by the tragedy in 2015, which resulted in 19 deaths and widespread environmental devastation caused by the spill of toxic sludge.
The collective complaint includes 240,000 individuals, 24 municipalities, 11,000 businesses, and the Krenak indigenous community. In addition to the deaths and the total destruction of Bento Rodrigues, a small village 35 kilometers from Mariana, some 39 million cubic meters of tailings were released into the surrounding area, reaching the Rio Doce basin and causing the biggest environmental disaster in Brazil’s history. Even now, there is no telling exactly how many people were affected by the dam collapse, provoking serious damage along the 700 km Rio Doce.