US$5 billion settlement offer for Iron ore waste water dam break in Brazil is too small

The government has signaled that Samarco, co-owned by giants Vale and BHP Billiton, is ready to pay 20 billion reais for the collapse of a waste water dam at its iron ore mine in Minas Gerais on November 5.

The accident, which unleashed a massive flood of mud into the River Doce, was described as Brazil’s worst ever environmental disaster. Drinking water supplies were cut for hundreds of thousands of people, a village was flattened, and local fishing and tourist businesses were badly impacted.

The nearly US$5 billion expected settlement for last year’s toxic flood that killed 17 people in Brazil could be challenged by prosecutors, who say the amount is not enough.

A car and two dogs are seen on the roof of destroyed houses. The dam held waste from an iron ore mine and the accident unleashed a deluge of thick, red toxic mud Photograph: Felipe Dana/AP