According to the sources familiar to the investigation, Brazilian dam workers say they warned of disaster. They accused the mine’s operators of not informing the workforce or relocate a canteen and administration building that were destroyed in the disaster.
More than 142 people died and more than 194 are still missing as a dam collapsed in Brazilian Minas Gerais on January 25.
The mine is owned by the Brazilian company Vale. Its officials said that dam was regularly checked and most recent checking was conducted on 22 January. It was stated that company had received “declarations of condition of stability” from TÜV SÜD, a German inspection company.
Three Vale employees and two engineers from TÜV SÜD were arrested after four days of disaster. But on Tuesday a high court ordered their release.
“There was no leak in the dam,” a Vale spokeswoman said.
But some of the workers have remembered that repair works were conducted last year after the dam leaked water near its base.
Videos released in the internet show the enormous, grass-covered structure ure collapsing into a deluge of mud.
The Brumadinho dam was built in 1976 using the “upstream” method. This method was also used to build the Fundão dam, which collapsed in November 2015. Then it killed 19 people and caused environmental catastrophe.
In September, a TÜV SÜD report concluded that the Brumadinho dam was stable. But it highlighted drainage problems and recommended installing new water pressure monitors.
In 2018, João Xavier, a state assembly representative for Minas Gerais, proposed a state law that would have prohibited 90% of the state’s “upstream” dams and created more rigorous regulations for the rest. The bill was defeated, Xavier said, by the powerful mining lobby.
“They argued this would harm mining in the state but the opposite is true: what harms mining is living with environmental tragedies,” Xavier said.