Brazil Police Seek Arrests of Samarco Executives Over Spill

  • Minas Gerais state police release findings of inquiry
  • Police allege negligence in monitoring, flawed emergency plan

Brazilian police are seeking a court order to arrest six Samarco Mineracao SA executives for alleged negligence in a tailings dam spill that killed at least 17 people in November.

Minas Gerais state police released the findings of an initial inquiry in an e-mailed statement Tuesday. Also under investigation is an engineering contractor.

Samarco, a joint venture owned by Vale SA and BHP Billiton Ltd., said in an e-mailed response that the proposed detentions are misguided and that it will wait for the court’s decision before taking action. Samarco is undertaking its own investigation of the collapse and is collaborating with authorities, it said.

In a separate statement, BHP and Vale said they are studying comments made by police in Brazil. “These are serious allegations that need to be fully considered,” the companies said Wednesday in a joint statement. “We will study the statement of the Civil Police closely.”

The companies won’t speculate on the cause of the dam failure as an independent external panel is continuing an investigation, they said.

The tailings dam burst on Nov. 5, unleashing a wave of sludge that devastated communities along the Rio Doce River. Among the police allegations are negligence in monitoring the dam’s operations and a flawed emergency plan.

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