About a year ago, 270 people died after a dam broke in Brumadinho, Brazil. Now employees of the operator and the German audit firm have to answer to the court – for murder.

The Brazilian judiciary indicted the mining group Vale and the subsidiary of the German inspection company TÜV Süd for breaking the dam in southern Brazil in January 2019. According to Brazilian media reports, the eleven Vale representatives and five TÜV employees have to answer to the court for the murder of 270 people, the two companies also for crimes against flora and fauna and environmental pollution.

The public prosecutor had already brought charges shortly before the anniversary of the dam in Brumadinho. According to the investigation, the accused had tried to hide the real situation of the dam. From the investigators’ perspective, they knew about its instability. 

One of the most serious accidents in Brazil 

The dam at the Córrego do Feijão mine was broken on January 25, 2019. A mudslide rolled over parts of the plant and neighboring settlements near the village of Brumadinho in the state of Minas Gerais, burying people, houses and animals among themselves. 259 bodies were recovered, and eleven other people are still missing.

Brazil Brumadinho one year after dam break (DW / N. Pontes)Crosses commemorate the 270 dead from the dam break in Brumadinho

The Brazilian subsidiary of the German TÜV Süd inspected the retention basin shortly before the dam broke and found it safe despite several maintenance recommendations. However, investigations revealed that the TÜV had doubts about the stability and only attested this under pressure from Vale. The Brazilian mining group has been criticized for a long time. In 2015, a waste pool of his subsidiary Samarco was broken, 19 people died at the time. 

According to the “Süddeutsche Zeitung”, the Munich public prosecutor’s office is also investigating TÜV Süd. The headquarters of the now globally active testing company is located in Munich. 


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