By Lise Alves, Senior Contributing Reporter
RIO DE JANEIRO, BRAZIL – Thirty-nine municipalities in the states of Minas Gerais and Espirito Santo have been offered R$53 million to withdraw lawsuits against Samarco and its main shareholders, Brazil’s Vale and Anglo-Australian giant BHP Billiton, including those filed in the United Kingdom, according to government news agency Agencia Brasil.
“Payments to city halls will be made by sending the signed disbursement agreement and issuing the Municipal Collection Document (DAM),” reads the letter sent by Renova Foundation, according to the news agency.
The Renova Foundation, is the entity created by Vale, BHP Billiton and Samarco to manage the payment and repair of all damages caused in the Rio Doce Basin, after the Samarco dam break in 2015.
The disaster completed three years on the November 5th and municipal officials from cities affected by the toxic mud, which spilled into the land and rivers near the mining site, still complain that the companies have compensated the municipalities for the damages.
“A lot of people were indirectly affected [by the spill] and no one is taking responsibility. “The entire population depends on the city’s public services which has also been affected,” stated Mariana’s mayor Duarte Junior to reporters covering the third anniversary of the disaster last week.
“There are legal actions here in Brazil and abroad. At some point, we will have to decide which one is most interesting for the municipality. Because we know we cannot win here and there,” concluded the mayor before this latest proposal by the mining companies.