Brazilian prosecutors question Samarco dam burst settlement

Reuters News
Posted: Mar 03, 2016 9:09 PM

BRASILIA (Reuters) - Brazilian prosecutors on Thursday criticized a deal that mining company Samarco reached earlier this week with the federal government to pay an estimated 20 billion reais ($5.27 billion)in damages for a deadly dam spill in November.

The settlement favors the miner instead of the population affected by what is considered to be Brazil's worst environmental disaster, the prosecutors of the task force investigating the spill as well prosecutors in the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo said in a statement.

Samarco and its owners, BHP Billiton and Vale SA VALE5.SA, inked a settlement deal with the government on Wednesday after weeks of arduous negotiations. The miner agreed to pay an estimated 20 billion reais in damages over 15 years to compensate local communities flooded by a tsunami of mining waste that also polluted a major river in both states.

The burst tailings dam killed 19 people and left hundreds homeless.

Prosecutors said the deal does not guarantee the proper clean up and payment of damages for populations that were not included in settlement talks.

The deal does not block other judicial actions currently ongoing in both states, prosecutors said.

(Reporting by Alonso Soto; Editing by Sandra Maler)