By Agence France-Presse
A dam that collapsed at a Brazilian mine last month, killing at least 134 people, had drainage problems according to a technical inspection carried out for the mining giant Vale, media reported Tuesday.
Several outlets published excerpts of the stability inspection report carried out by the German company TUEV SUED and accompanying photos showing some drainage tubes damaged and others said to be blocked by vegetation.
However, after listing a number of recommendations to Vale, the German firm signed off on the dam’s stability certificate.
Vale said it had fulfilled each of the recommendations before the January 25 collapse of the dam, which stored mining waste near the town of Brumadinho, in southeast Brazil.
Nearly 200 people remain missing, presumed dead, in the disaster, which saw millions of tons of muddy sludge crash across the mine and through vegetation, sweeping up hundreds of mine workers and some nearby residents.
Three Vale employees responsible for operations licenses at the mine and two TUEV SUED engineers involved in the inspection were arrested January 29 for extensive questioning.
On Tuesday, a court ordered their release, saying their detention was “unfounded” despite the “seriousness” of the disaster.
Vale, which was involved in a similar dam collapse disaster at another mine in the same region in 2015, has embarked on a series of measures to show it was responding to the tragedy.
On Monday, another court ruled that the company was no longer allowed to store mining waste in eight other dams it operates.
That decision meant the immediate suspension of operations at one of the company’s biggest mines in Brazil, at Brucutu, which has annual output of 30 million tons of iron ore, or about 7.5 percent of Vale’s production forecast for this year.
Vale said in a statement that all its dams had “the necessary licenses and valid stability certificates.” It said it would appeal the court’s ruling on the dams.
Shares in the company, which fell 24 percent the first trading day after the disaster, lost 3.4 percent on Monday on the Sao Paulo stock market following the decision.
On Tuesday the shares had stabilized, dipping a small 0.5 percent hours before close of trading.