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Brazil police recommend charges again Vale, auditor over dam burst

The January 2019 collapse of a dam owned by the Vale mining in Brumadinho, Minas Gerais state, Brazil, unleashed a torrent of toxic sludge that killed nearly 250 people (AFP Photo/Douglas MAGNO)

Sao Paulo (AFP) - Brazilian police said Friday they have enough evidence to charge employees of mining giant Vale and its German auditor over false information used to certify the safety of a tailings dam that collapsed, killing hundreds.

The finding comes eight months after the January 25 dam breach in the mineral-rich state of Minas Gerais that spewed millions of tons of mining waste across the countryside and forced Vale to suspend some of its operations.

Police concluded that documents confirming the stability of the dam contained false information and that the structure did not meet international safety standards.

The police findings will be sent to prosecutors, who will have to decide whether to charge the seven Vale workers, none of whom are senior managers, and six employees of TUV SUD.

The TUV SUD employees include a German-based business development director, engineers and consultants who certified the dam's stability in 2018.

TUV SUD declined to comment on the accusations, while Vale said in a statement it would examine the findings.

It comes a day after a judge ordered Vale to pay nearly $3 million to the families of three victims of the dam collapse that killed nearly 250 people, one of the country's worst industrial accidents.

That followed a separate court ruling in July for Vale to pay for all the damages caused by the disaster, without quantifying the amount of money.

The dam burst was the second involving Vale in three years in the mining region.

Brazil has since banned the construction of new upstream dams, which are cheaper but less stable than other types of tailings dams, and ordered the decommissioning of existing ones.